BBC Hindi to kick off 2-week series on Aids

MUMBAI: The BBC Hindi Service has announced the launch of a high impact two-week series on the issue of HIV/Aids starting this Sunday (16 November).


The series will kick off with Talking Point, a 30-minute discussion programme featuring JJ Hospital Mumbai's head of Department of Medicine Dr Alaka Deshpande, and a HIV positive man Rajendra Shirke.

Everyday, the series will debate and provide information about what is now the fourth biggest killer in the world, leading up to World Aids Day 1 December.

A company release states, that Aids series is a part of the BBC World Service season featuring a range of broadcasts from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The season is the first time the entire BBC World Service - including the Hindi programmes, the 42 language services and English - have joined forces to address one subject.

BBC Hindi Service head Achala Sharma is quoted in the release as saying, "India has over 4.5 million people with HIV/Aids but due to ignorance and inhibitions, the country hasn't fully grasped the size of its huge health problem, or the implications. Our series will challenge the traditional taboos around talking about sex. It will give our listeners straightforward information about HIV/Aids. We'll also encourage discussion about important issues such as safe sex and attitudes to those living with the virus."

The issues addressed in BBC Hindi series will include:

* Women and Aids: the plight of rural women with little knowledge of the disease who often become its unsuspecting victims

* Sex workers: often claimed to spread the disease, how are they responding to the threat of the virus? 

* Condoms: their availability and people's attitude towards buying, selling and using them

* Drug companies: Indian anti-retroviral drug manufacturers such as Cipla and the cost of drug therapy

* Doctors: their dilemma in dealing openly with HIV/Aids cases

* 'Quacks': the boom in business for those promising desperate people a 'cure'

* Homosexuals: more prone to the virus, still stigmatised and not accepted by society

* Children: the situation of HIV/Aids children who are often ostracised

* Migrant labourers: the lack of awareness among migrant labourers who are vulnerable to the disease 

* Testimonials : HIV positive people from different regions highlighting the social stigma and apathy they face.

The series will end with a second Talking Point with health minister Sushma Swaraj on 30 November.

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