Nationwide Train Trip To Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness Among Youth In Rural Villages

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The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfareis finalizing preparations to dispatch a train that over the course ofone year will reach 60,000 rural villages nationwide to raise awarenessabout HIV/AIDS among youth, a ministry official recently announced, thePress Trust of India reports. The Red Ribbon Express willhave seven coaches equipped with medical equipment; facilities forcounseling, examination and treatment; rest rooms; a kitchen; and anauditorium. Doctors, paramedics and volunteers will be on board toprovide care to youth.

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According to Mayank Agarwal, joint director of the National AIDS Control Organization,the train is expected to stop at 180 stations across the country. Stopswill include the vulnerable states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh,Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. During thestops, the train's staff will travel to rural areas and spend severaldays educating residents about HIV/AIDS, as well as facilitatingexamination and treatment, Agarwal said. He added that the workers alsowill try to mobilize village youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS andenroll them in a volunteer program to raise awareness about thedisease. The team will "take care of any affected persons if we comeacross them," according to Agarwal.

The train expedition isscheduled to start in December in the southern Indian state ofKanyakumari and return to the same state at the end of one year. Anunnamed senior health ministry official said, "Though we have launchedAIDS awareness campaigns in villages also, this is for the first timethat the ministry is embarking on a massive scale to take the battle tosemi-urban and rural areas on train" (Press Trust of India, 7/25).
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