Monday, September 10, 2007

Barbers turn AIDS educators

It takes just a knick or cut from your friendly neighbourhood barber’s unsterilised razor for you to contract the deadly HIV virus. But in Bihar, even if that happens chances are that you might not have anything to worry. Sounds unbelievable right? The state welfare department which mooted the idea of training beggars in launching anti-AIDS campaigns in Bihar, has now decided to rope in barbers who will not only trim hair of the customers but will also cut the deadly AIDS down to size simultaneously!

Under part of its campaign to fight the deadly HIV+/AIDs, a prominent Swiss -based NGO is aggressively training barbers employed in some 700 hair cutting saloons running across the state capital about how to use their sharp razors to cut down HIV cases which have gone up alarmingly in the recent past.

In the first phase of the campaign, about 50 barbers were provided certain tips about how to contain the spread of this deadly disease. They were advised to disinfect blades/razors by getting them soaked in sodium hypochlorite solution for about half-and-hour.

“Infected razors and blades had been one of the main reasons behind the transmission of HIV/AIDS and hence barbers can prove invaluable in launching a concerted battle against this deadly disease,” said Mr Pankaj Kumar Sinha, Bihar coordinator of Francoise-Xavier Bagnoud, a Swiss NGO working in education and health.
Barber shops, he added, are being specially targeted since they are like “communication hubs” where a vast cross-section of people visit everyday. “The barbers can thus very easily distribute condoms among the visitors, apart from counseling them to get tested for HIV/AIDS”, he opined.

Earlier, last October, the state welfare department had mooted a comprehensive plan to involve some 2 lakh beggars of Bihar for spreading the message of “safe sex” with the objective of fighting the AIDS scourge.
“Beggars are terrific performers. The challenge before us was how to make maximum utilisation of their creative skills”, the state welfare department secretary Mr Vijay Prakash had said then.

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