Karnataka to help fight AIDS with folk art

Karnataka to help fight AIDS with folk artBangalore, Oct 23 : Music passes the message quick and well, and Karnataka intends to do just that by using state's popular folk art to spread awareness among the masses about HIV-AIDS and to wash the stigma attached to it.

"People of the state have traditionally been inclined towards art and culture. Hence, we have decided to use the powerful tool of folk art to educate people on HIV-AIDS and create further awareness on the disease among rural and illiterate people," Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) Planning Director R. Jannu told IANS.

From Nov 15 onwards, folk artists from across the state will perform in rural areas to reach out to the poor and illiterate in the fight against HIV-AIDS.

National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) has marked Karnataka as a "highly prevalent state".

Around 115 folk artists participated in a three-day workshop on HIV-AIDS organised by KSAPS in association with state health and family welfare department at Mysore, around 140 km from here, recently.

Yakshagana, a form of dance-drama with colourful costumes, Krishna Parijata, a folk theatre form devoted to Hindu god Krishna, Togalu Bombeyaata puppetry, Bhootha Aradhane, or worship of the spirits, will all be used to entertain and educate people on ways to treat HIV-AIDS patients and how to prevent its spread.

There will also be magic shows, street plays and folk songs.

The artists representing 14 folk troupes from the districts of Mysore, Shimoga, Mandya, Tumkur, Bangalore Rural, Gadaj, Hassan, Bellary and Chikmagalur took part in the workshop which ended Thursday.

"During the workshop, the artists were trained by experts on the various methods for prevention of AIDS. We hope that these artists will in turn create awareness among the people about AIDS in their respective districts by various performing folk arts," said Jannu.

Appreciating the initiative of the government for engaging folk art as a medium to create awareness on HIV-AIDS, folklore expert Kalegowda Nagawara said it would help the rural people the most.

"The government has introduced several schemes for prevention AIDS. But it is a novel idea to involve folk troupes in creating awareness amongst the people about the deadly disease. More such programmes should be undertaken to create awareness among the public about AIDS disease," said Kalegowda.

According to KSAPS, the state has 2.5 lakh HIV-infected people and 33,000 AIDS patients. But only 22,000 members are registered under the society.

The KSAPS says that around 30 percent of children born to HIV-infected mothers are at risk of getting the disease, if they are not part of the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission programmes (PPCT).

"Around 60 percent of HIV-infected mothers in the state have no access to PPCT," said an official of KSAPS.

According to estimates five million Indians are HIV-positive. (IANS)

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