Sing for those who are voiceless

On World AIDS day, 1st December 2011, a program 'Sing For Those Who Are Voiceless' was organized by Maan AIDS Foundation, to celebrate their achievements of the past one year in bringing vulnerable and voiceless communities together to fight AIDS. The foundation shared its one year's progress report of the work it has done under the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund)'s Regional Project programme. This project has helped in strengthening community based organizations in the country with a view to integrate the most at risk populations of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs) with the existing HIV/AIDS control and treatment programmes of the government.

Ten years back, there were very few Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in the country, and even they were doing voluntary work without any funds and with very little strategic direction. Under this project, Maan AIDS Foundation has to develop about 30 such community based units, under the Pehchan (identity) Programme. In one year it has not only put in place 11 new CBOs, but also helped and facilitated the existing ones, putting 7 of them on board, and thus bringing 18 new programmes under its ambit within one year. All these programmes would go a long way in strengthening the national programme by reaching out to districts where there is hardly any HIV/AIDS intervention going on, and thus help the government in achieving its goals of Zero HIV infections by increasing community involvement and ownership. The ultimate goal is ‘no more new infections, no stigma and no discrimination’ in the field of HIV/AIDS for all affected populations.

Maan AIDS Foundation also announced the rolling of another programme DIVA, which would begin as soon as final approval from the Government of India's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) is received - which is one of Maan AIDS Foundation’s  Global Fund regional programmes addressing diversity in action for supporting communities and reducing vulnerabilities. This will be rolled out in 18 states, including UP, and strengthen the capacities of roughly 60 CBOs. Yet another European Union funded programme will cover another 16 states to strengthen the capacities of CBOs, and support the existing ones to scale up their services.

Maan AIDS Foundation  also organized 5 awareness booths on World AIDS Day, 2011, in collaboration with their local CBO Bharosa, at Badshahnagar, GPO, Chowk, Begum Hazrat Mahal Park and Charbagh, to create awareness amongst the general public about the problems of persons having different sexual orientations.

The sole aim of all these efforts is to reach out to populations for interventions that have been hitherto unreached, and also address the mental health issues of LGBTs. Most of the existing programs look at the visible population only. But the main aim of all these new programmes is to reach the unreached and to target those segments of populations for interventions which have remained hidden due to social ostracism and stigma. They may think differently from the rest of us, but they are also an integral part of society and children of the same God who loves all of us.

Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP and taught physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. She also co-authored a book (translated in three languages) "Voices from the field on childhood pneumonia" published in November 2011 and a report on Hepatitis C and HIV co-infection and treatment access issues in December 2011. Email:, website:

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