NASA headquarters stands next to highway 5, the main north-south highway along India’s east coast. Many of the poor men in the area, most of whom are Dalits, migrate along the highway looking for seasonal work, leaving their villages and families for days, weeks or months at a time.
Roadside prostitution is common along the highway and because both prostitutes and clients fail to take precautions many contract the AIDS virus and take it back home.
The Foundation for Rural and Social Development found that around 30 percent of the sex workers on the highway are HIV positive. Shockingly, the study also found that most of the sex workers have children. NASA conducts special counselling sessions for both migrants and sex workers to curb this epidemic.
Interaction with HIV/AIDS Sufferers
The NASA team uses cultural programs, filmshows, street plays, and health education camps to educate villagers about HIV/AIDS.
NASA conducts awareness camps once a month in 15 local mandals (groups of villages). These awareness camps have brought changes among those infected with HIV/AIDS. Now they are able to say that they will not spread this disease to others. This is one way to control HIV/AIDS. NASA continously supports these people in several ways.
Food and Financial Assistance
NASA gives financial support to all families affected by HIV/AIDS. It gives 200 rupees for each person and altogether 350 people are receiving financial assistance. NASA also provides food and clothes. NASA feels that it is not enough for the people have no other means to support them.
Apart from education and awareness-raising, NASA offers individual and group counselling to HIV/AIDS-affected men and women to give them confidence and prolong their lives. NASA encourages sex workers to find alternatives and lobbies the Government to establish resettlement schemes.
NASA distributes pamphlets and booklets to the people so they can know more about HIV/AIDS. Quotations by eminent personalities and information on AIDS is printed in the pamphlets.
HIV/AIDS sufferers are alienated from their homes, villages and wider society. NASA has studied these people and concluded that they are suffering not only from stigma but also from emotional and psychological problems. NASA therefore decided that they need a Rehabilitation Centre which will provide a new life that will make their stay happy and peaceful as long as they live.