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International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse
PRIME MINISTER'S MESSAGE ON HIV

           Since the HIV/AIDS affliction is mostly in the productive age group of 18 to 40, this could have grim consequences for our economy. Already, half of the new infections in India are in this age group. Business and industry must take a hard and urgent note of this reality and act to increase awareness about AIDS and spread the message about its prevention.
           For AIDS is preventable. You cannot prevent a common cold, but yes, you can prevent AIDS by taking precautions. HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected person, transfusion of infected blood and blood products, use of contaminated needles and syringes, and from an infected mother to her child via birth, and also through breast feeding by infected mothers. AIDS is preventable through awareness. Awareness is the key to prevention.
           However, unless we put all our efforts to increase voluntary blood donation and meet the shortage of blood, we will not be able to achieve total blood safety in the country. I urge all of you to involve yourself in promotion of voluntary blood donation campaigns in your areas or constituencies and motivate the younger sections of society to make voluntary blood donation a habit. Donating blood is a healthy habit. It is also a redeeming habit. Millions of HIV positive persons and AIDS sufferers are afraid to talk or seek medical help because they are burdened with undue guilt and stigma. Million more Indians, hundreds of thousands of worried families want to know more about HIV/AIDS but are afraid to ask. Awareness is the only weapon we have today against AIDS. There is no single strategy for creating awareness. We must use every available medium of communication to spread the message across the country whether it is electronic media, print media and even the folk media. We also need to relentlessly search for an anti-HIV vaccine as a task of high priority and urgency. In the meantime, we all will have to bring out the best in each one of us by way of compassion, understanding and love for those who are afflicted and already affected. India can do no less.

Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Honourable Prime Minister of India.
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