Goa Child Rights Body Advocates Support for Young HIV Survivors
On the eve of World AIDS Day 2023, Peter F. Borges, Chairperson of the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, conveyed significant concern regarding the persistent presence of HIV stigma and discrimination in Goa. These challenges create substantial obstacles to the well-being and inclusion of those impacted by the virus, especially young individuals who were born with HIV, have transitioned to adolescence or adulthood, and are currently in search of a supportive environment to lead a fulfilling life with the virus. Goa is home to more than 300 such individuals who have successfully overcome the epidemic. The Goa SCPCR urges everyone to consider this as a shared responsibility. Stigmatising attitudes persist in Goan society towards individuals with HIV, fostering misconceptions, and obstructing open dialogue. The lack of enforcement of the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017, coupled with the need for an enabling environment and a grievance redressal mechanism, further hampers our efforts. Decisive Action Points: Legal Protection and Stigma-Free Spaces: Cultivate stigma-free environments in workplaces, schools, and public areas by adopting the HIV & AIDS Policy for Establishment, 2022, mandated by the HIV and AIDS Act, 2017. Ceasing Mandatory HIV Testing: Immediately halt all mandatory HIV testing in workplaces, especially pre-employment mandatory HIV testing within the hospitality industry and emphasise the importance of fostering an environment that values privacy, dignity, and inclusivity. Awareness Campaigns: Initiate impactful awareness campaigns surrounding the elimination of stigma surrounding HIV, creating an environment where individuals born with HIV and transitioning to adolescence or adulthood feel genuinely accepted and supported. In our collective journey towards a compassionate and inclusive society, prioritising the well-being of young survivors of the HIV epidemic, particularly those who have now transitioned to adolescence and adulthood, is imperative. Ending AIDS by 2030 necessitates the dismantling of social barriers perpetuating the HIV epidemic. Through active confrontation and eradication of stigma and discrimination, we pave the way for a world where every individual, regardless of their HIV status, can live with dignity, access essential services, and contribute to the collective effort to end AIDS once and for all. The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in collaboration with the Human Touch Foundation, has organised a special program for over 60 young adolescents born with HIV. to pay tribute to their bravery, courage, and resilience on 1st December, World AIDS Day 2023 at Novotel Resorts, Candolim.