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Times of India
28 May 2008
Pune, India

Blood donation marks end of AIDS week
Blood Donation Blood Donation
‘Wake Up Pune’, a week–long campaign to create awareness on HIV and AIDS in the city, culminated with a candlelight vigil on M.G. road on Sunday evening.

The campaign was an initiative undertaken through a collaboration of city–based NGOs. The campaign was also a part of the Global AIDS Week of Action (GAWA), an international programme being observed across the world under the aegis of the World Health Organisation.

The evening saw programmes like mock calls to HIV/AIDS helpline, and talks by various NGOs on HIV and AIDS and the misconceptions related to it. The audience participated in tile–painting, on–the–spot blood donation, and poster painting.

The touching part of the evening was when an AIDS–affected woman took stage to narrate the trauma caused due to stigmatisation. There was a candid confession by a homosexual about his sexual orientation and related ostracisation. Sex workers and their children, as well as HIV and AIDS–affected persons mingled freely with the citizens of Pune.

Popular singers Abhijit Sawant, Amit Sana and Himani Kapoor were the star attractions of the programme. “Let’s all come together and join hands with people living with HIV”, was Abhijit Sawant’s message to his fans. “Never give up the fight against AIDS’, said Amit Sana as he rocked the evening. Himani Kapoor won over the crowd with her dazzling performance.

There was also a candlelight vigil where the audience lit a candle and observed a moment’s silence in the memory of those who have died of AIDS.

The volunteers of Wake Up Pune took stage to exhort the people to demand the passing of the HIV/AIDS Bill. “HIV/AIDS is a chronic condition. If treated in time, an affected person can have a long fulfilling life. Do not discriminate against people living with HIV”, exhorted Hans Billimoria, member of Wake Up Pune.

A striking feature of the evening was the presence of a number of volunteers from abroad. Claire, a volunteer from United Kingdom said that she has been coming to Pune for volunteer work for the last seven years. “Being a part of this campaign has been a fantastic experience”, she said.

Scottish band ‘Herman Death Willy Tail’ composed a song specially for the occasion. They performed to a crowd of over 2000, spreading the message of eradicating the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. Pune–based band H.I.V. also performed at the venue.

Earlier during the week, representatives of NGOs from various districts in Maharashtra discussed their experiences about their work on AIDS awareness and prevention.

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