Aid its prevention

What our cover story brings to you is that HIV/AIDS in Kashmir is more than that. It is a reflection of the manner in which the degradation of our civil society has taken place. In that sense, it has damaged our society just as it does the human body: it begins by killing those parts responsible for building society, the youth, the women and the breadwinners who sustain and safeguard the community as a whole. Ultimately, AIDS will undercut the lifeline of the future of our civil society.
In Kashmir, as it turns out, AIDS is not just a health crisis. It is a reflection of a systemic deep-rooted social crisis. It is also a bane of, and major threat, to our civil society. Without trying to be alarmist, it can be said that while wreaking havoc on the present generation, the disease jeopardises the future as well, undermining our economy and society in ways that often are not immediately apparent.
There are structural reasons for Kashmir that make it relatively more prone to the affliction. One, of course, is that being an economy with a high incidence of floating population, be it tourists or truckers who come to deliver goods into the valley from the mainland. More recently, the presence of migrant workers who come in search of jobs has added to the risks.
What has added fuel to the fire is the situation that we are in.  The two decades of civil strife has not just increased the risks but also added a systemic risk factor to our society because of the presence of the security forces. No wonder that North East and Kashmir are two states battling with high incidence.
Before we are accused of having a bias, lets us state that the Indian Security forces, in particular, Assam Rifles, have officially admitted to the high presence of HIV/AIDS virus among its jawans.
What worries is that we are neither medically equipped to handle the problem nor are we socially aware to address the source of the problem and deal with its incidence in an enlightened manner. We either tend to get moralistic about it or are in a perennial state of denial. Neither will help. What is required is a pragmatic approach starting with prevention, detection, and management in a socially aware manner.

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