Red Ribbon Express to create awareness on swine flu

New Delhi, Dec 2 - The Red Ribbon Express which has started its AIDS awareness journey has a special mandate this time - it will also mobilise mass awareness about swine flu, a pandemic that has already killed 580 Indians and infected over 18,000.

"The train will provide information on swine flu at all the 10,000 villages that it will cover during its yearlong journey," Ajay Khera, assistant director general of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), told IANS.

He said they have devoted one coach of the train to provide information on communicable diseases like swine flu.

The Red Ribbon Express will halt at 152 stations in high HIV/AIDS prevalence areas of 141 districts and disseminate information about the disease among the masses and try to unite people by dispelling existing misconceptions.

During its halt at different places, volunteers will disseminate information regarding prevention and services, to help people develop an understanding about the infection in order to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. They will also talk about swine flu.

The eight-coach train with both doctors and volunteers on board will also strengthen people's knowledge about general health.

Authorities said since swine flu is spreading faster in Rajasthan, the train's first halts will be in the desert state. It has already reached Shri Ganganagar. It will cover eight destinations in the state over the next 14 days.

Rajasthan has lost 46 people and over 1,000 people have been infected with the influenza A (H1N1) virus in the last few weeks. (IANS)