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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 22:11 GMT
Indian state's new Aids campaign
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu
Naidu's earlier campaign was criticised by conservatives

The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is to launch an year-long awareness campaign on Aids from next month.

Officials say the state has nearly 400,000 HIV positive people.

Lead guitarist Salman Ahmed of pop band 'Junoon' in UN Aids awareness poster
The UN funds an Aids awareness programme
The Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu, said there could be a big social and economic crisis in the state if the Aids problem was not taken seriously.

Mr Naidu was speaking at a meeting of district heads in Hyderabad.

Mr Naidu directed officials to especially target schools and colleges in the awareness campaign which is due to begin on 1 December.

Mr Naidu said a recent survey indicates that while 90% of the state population was aware of the Aids risk, only 20% were practicing safe sex.

He said people in the age group of 18 to 30 were the most vulnerable.

People shy

The chief minister said condoms were not freely available and that many people were shy of buying them.

Mr Naidu asked his officials to make condoms available at public places such as bus stops and railway stations where people could pick them up without hesitation.

He also asked officials to display safe sex measures at all official meetings.

The chief minister had earlier instructed that all official meetings should begin with a brief talk on Aids awareness.

The government is also carrying out an Aids awareness drive using hoardings and adverts.

The campaign, however, has been criticised by some sections of the state's largely conservative society.

Three- and- a- half million Indians are thought to be infected with the HIV virus - accounting for 10% of all HIV infected people worldwide.


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