Nepal’s fight Against HIV/AIDS- CNC World

*** ANCHOR BACK ON CAM ** Nepal is famous for its natural beauty. But the country gets trouble with HIV/AIDS. Many people, who're infected, cannot figure out their condition because of social factors. But the government says it's trying its best to fight against the disease. *** PKG *** On a sunny afternoon at Sanepa, Lalitpur, the 36-year-old Saughat Rai is busy writing lyrics. Rai, a talented composer, singer and former drug user, is HIV-positive. The only son in his family, Rai had a pleasant childhood. But quarrels between his father and stepmother upset him. That is why he began smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and then using drugs. SOUNDBITE (NEPALI) SAUGHAT RAI, HIV carrier "To tell you frankly, it was because of my situation and my friends around. These all affected me and it started by smoking a cigarette." Careless use of needles from other drug users was how Rai was infected with the virus. The Nepali government estimates that more than 50,000 people are living with HIV in the country. However, fewer than half of the cases have been reported so far. An average of over 1,400 new infections is reported every year. The Nepali government has time and again said it's committed to fighting against HIV/AIDS. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) KRISHNA KUMAR RAI, Government official: "It's a priority. The government is investing resources; financial and human resources and we are scaling up the services." UNAIDS Country Coordinator Ruben Prado said strategy and innovative methods are important in this fight. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) RUBEN PRADO, UNAIDS official: "We must also be very strategic. You cannot just go and fight the way you used to. You have lots of money and you just put the money there and it will go away. If you put money, eventually you will have a success story may be. We have to know how to invest strategically. The things that we know work, we must do it more and better." Not only the government, but NGOs, as well as some individuals have also joined hands to support the people living with HIV. Raj Kumar Pun and Uma Gurung are two such individuals who have been contributing to HIV positive orphans. Saphalta HIV Shiksya Sadan School opened by Pun and Gurung has contributed immensely for educating children from the rural parts of the country. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) RAJNEESH BHANDARI, CNC correspondent: "Saphalta HIV Shiksya Sadan School is a special school for HIV positive children in Nepal. Ten students are being taught in a small class room." SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) RAJ KUMAR PUN, School teacher: "There are instances that students were expelled from school because they are HIV-positive so we thought of this school. And with education medication is another priority." Activists in Nepal are adamant in their view that HIV/AIDS victims should be treated positively and not discriminated against. The HIV/AIDS counselor of Sangati Extended Care Center Uttam Shrestha said that the Nepalese society should first accept them. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) UTTAM SHRESTHA, Sangati Extended Care Center: "They are not getting the total care, love and support from the society." UNAIDS official Ruben Prado couldn't agree more. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) RUBEN PRADO, UNAIDS official: "People living with HIV are not a threat, such people have to be guided and they have to be supported. So that they can get the treatment and they can contribute to the development of the country. Shrestha also stressed that the funds should be utilized properly. For someone like Rai, it is still difficult to reveal the so-called stigma to those near and dear to them. His wife and eight-year-old son still don't know that he has HIV. SOUNDBITE (NEPALI) SAUGHAT RAI, HIV carrier: "One day, the time will come. I will look for the right time and tell this to my wife. I will tell everything to my wife. I will also take my son for checkup." Despite many positive strides in recent years, the fight against AIDS still has a long way to go in Nepal.