(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Ministry of Health (MoH) pavilion near the festival entrance at Naseem Gardens has a target to change the society's outlook on those affected with HIV/AIDS and on the disease itself.
The attempt seems a success. Enter the pavilion and one can see a number of visitors who keep the officials at the stall busy.
The pavilion has a free counselling corner for visitors where they can ask questions regarding the disease and clarify their doubts.
'''Most of the visitors are young. They are curious and have several doubts. This is quite positive. People are not hesitant to come forward with their queries. The more questions they ask, the better informed they will be. So our purpose is served,'' said Khadija al Maharouqi, an MoH official at the stall.
Visitors to the pavilion are also given a questionnaire about the disease and how those suffering from HIV/AIDS are viewed. The questionnaire also talks about the mode of transmission of the disease and the safety measures.
Besides this, officials also distribute brochures explaining how the virus is transmitted. Issues like unprotected sex, sharing of needles, transmission of the disease from mother to child and through blood transfusion are also addressed.
The ministry is also offering free blood tests at the venue to make people aware that a small test can ensure safety. Officials at the pavilion stress that those affected with the disease may look healthy, and it is only through a blood test that one can know for sure if he is infected or not. Information related to free blood tests offered at government health institutions are also being provided.
''We are trying to explain to people that HIV/ AIDS does not spread through physical contact. We are also trying to change the way society views those affected with this disease. It is very difficult for a patient to deal with discrimination as it makes life more difficult for him,'' said Khadija. According to officials at the pavilion, the crowd increases after 4.30pm and most of them are between the ages of 17 and 34.
Many visitors to the stall are also opting for free counselling. ''This problem cannot be tackled alone. We want the society to be aware about the disease and help us in eradicating it. Awareness will help people avoid contracting the disease,'' Khadija added