Hyderabad (Agenzia Fides) – Currently over 15,000 patients infected and affected by HIV/AIDS are treated with love and compassion in Catholic structures run by the Catholic Medical Association of India (CHAI), a national body founded in 1943 that brings together Catholic hospitals, health and social service centers in different Catholic dioceses across the country. As Fides learns, CHAI has launched Intervention Programs for HIV/AIDS patients since 1993.
"We have enabled over 150 of our Member Institutions to manage HIV/AIDS community care centres, offering services providing treatment for opportunistic infections, clinical management, counseling and care partnering with public health institutions, government and other NGOs", explains to Fides Redemptorist Mathew Abraham, CHAI’s general director.
During the 25 years of activity, more than 15,00,000 patients received outpatient services and approximately 500,000 received in-patient services. Today, over 40 CHAI Member Institutions focus exclusively on addressing the needs of children with vulnerability resulting specifically from HIV/AIDS.
According to figures from the Indian government, about 2.4 million Indians live with HIV and children under the age of 15 represent 3.5% of these patients.
Over the last few decades, CHAI has focused its attention especially on youth, with a particular focus on young women. Issues related to the age of marriage, better education, maternal health are among the themes covered in prevention campaigns.
"India is a relatively young country: 65% of people we come into contact with are less than 35 years old. However, young people are not a homogeneous category, but are divided into gender, caste, class, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, occupation, residence and physical or mental abilities. Therefore, a global approach is needed to include all young people in our planning and interventions", explains to Fides Manisha Gupte, a CHAI researcher.
In India today, "young women are affected by old and new forms of sexual violence, from attacks with acid, from chauvinist expressions of caste or religious identity", recalls Gupte. "The equal contribution of men and women to society is to be recognized by everyone", he concludes. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/6/2017)