AIDSCON 10: The National Hybrid Conference on Impact of  COVID 19 on National AIDS Control Programme

Chandigarh, 5th March, 2021: National Conference AIDSCON 10, organized by Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society inaugurated, today by Ms. Arti Ahuja, IAS, Additional Secretary & Director General, National AIDS Control Organisation, Govt. of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, New Delhi. Chandigarh is the only state in the country that is organizing this National Conference regularly for the past nine years.

This 10th National Conference was organized in a hybrid mode. Dr. Vanita Gupta, Project Director, Chandigarh SACS informed that more than 800 people from all over the world joined the conference virtually.  Speakers from Global Organisations, WHO, UNAIDS, USAIDS, CDC, PLAN India, SAATHI working in the field of HIV/AIDS shared their strategies to ensure effective implementation of NACP in the presence of restrictions to prevent COVID spread. The theme for this year’s conference is *“Towards AIDS-Free World – impact of COVID 19 on National AIDS Control Programme”*.

Ms. Arti Ahuja, IAS, Additional Secretary & Director General, National AIDS Control Organisation, Govt. of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, New Delhi while addressing the audience said that it is time to reach beyond the target of 95:95:95 to ensure 100% elimination of HIV by finding every infected person and starting the treatment, and ensure regularity and adherence to treatment so that the Virus transmission is stopped. The response to both HIV and COVID has to be evidence-driven and person-centric to obtain control. The affected community has to be the focus.

Dr. Amandeep Kang, Director Health Services, UT, Chandigarh enumerated the newly established testing centers and lauded the staff of the AIDS program for their role in health care services especially during COVID lockdown when no patient was deprived of medicine and food. She urged the HIV patients to take the COVID vaccine which is now readily available.

Dr. Alok Saxena, Joint Secretary, NACO, New Delhi joined the conference through virtual mode and appreciated the Chandigarh SACS for organizing this National Conference every year which is extremely informative and the outcomes are very useful for future program planning. Country Directors of Alliance, Plan India, CDC, UNAIDS, WHO, John Hopkins University addressed the audience. AIDS Society of India, NARI, Hum Safar Trust will be participating in this two-day conference which will conclude tomorrow.

The deliberations on Day I dwelt on how the COVID challenged system was managed successfully by the Civil Society, Government, Community, and AIDS Control Programme, so that the patients were managed adequately. The legal support to people living with HIV was elaborated on, by Dr. B.C. Gupta. HIV and TB Co-infection, STIs, HIV & COVID vaccine were other topics discussed.

The Conference would continue for the second day on 6th March, 2021.