The prevalence of HIV in Mizoram has come down appreciably in the last few years, thanks to the hard work put in by former sex workers and HIV patients in spreading awareness about the lethal nature of the virus and AIDS.
The Mizoram State AIDS Control Society (MSACS), the nodal agency working for spreading awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS in the state, has engaged 28 NGOs for the purpose of creating awareness, identification, counselling and care of the HIV-infected patients in the state.
These NGOs in turn have engaged several former sex workers and HIV patients working for them, who are not only helping them reach out to their former community but also overcome the stigma associated with the disease.
“These NGOs engage educators and outreach members most of whom are either former sex workers, drug users or HIV patients,” a senior official of the MSACS said.
“They help us reach our target group as no one here either talks about sex or HIV openly,” a senior official of MSACS said.
He said that the employed NGOs under this programme worked under the operational structure of one project director, followed by a counsellor, nurse, outreach members and pure educators.
It is the outreach members and educators category under which former sex workers and HIV patients are engaged to identify target groups of female sex workers, drug users, he said.
The VOLCOMH is one such NGO among 28 which is working for the prevention of the affliction and the spread of awareness among masses.
“Out of 12 educators, four of them are former sex workers and we also have an HIV patient in this entire operational structure.