(From LtoR) Dr Tenzin Namdol, Phuntsok Chomphel, and Tibetan MP Lobsang Yeshi releasing CHOICE HIV/AIDS Initiative's executive report (2007-2013) at a press conference in Dharamshala on May 30, 2013. (Phayul photo/Phuntsok Yangchen)
DHARAMSHALA, May 30: The lone Tibetan NGO in the exile community dedicated towards AIDS awareness and providing support to HIV patients, CHOICE-HIV/AIDS Initiative, today announced its dissolution at a press conference in Dharamshala.
After six long years of conducting intensive outreach and awareness programmes and establishing itself as a significant community partner in reducing the incidence of HIV infection in Tibetan refugee communities, CHIOCE will be dissolved on August 1.
Addressing the press conference, Phuntsok Chomphel, Executive Secretary of CHOICE said the difficult decision was arrived in order to avoid duplication of work.
“The Department of Health under Central Tibetan Administration, in particular, have put major efforts on HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, training for nurses and HIV victims, creating network among HIV positive people, and providing financial assistance to HIV/AIDS patients. This is supported by the regional hospitals and the NGOs,” Chomphel said.
“Therefore, in the current situation of heightened and invigorated involvement from numerous stake holders, CHOICE at times witness overlapping and duplication of campaigns on HIV/AIDS. In addition, CHOICE continues to be affected by the lack of human resources and the dwindling source of funds.”
During the press conference, CHOICE also released its 6-year executive report (2007-2013), detailing its efforts in reaching out to over 40,000 people through HIV/AIDS awareness workshops, trainings and networking programmes conducted all over the Indian subcontinent.
Addressing the press, Dr Tenzin Namdol, co-founder and executive director of CHOICE noted that under the NGO’s “Adopt an HIV Family” programme, which started in 2010, CHOICE financially supports people living with HIV/AIDS in the Tibetan community by facilitating sponsors.
“There are 40 infected individuals and their families under this program. We have also been facilitating admission of children belonging to financially challenged PLHA into Tibetan schools,” Namdol said.
Tibetan Member of Parliament and CHOICE co-founder, Lobsang Yeshi, while addressing the press stressed that growing stigmatisation and discrimination of people infected with HIV positive has contributed to the gradual swell in the HIV/ AIDS infection in the Tibetan community. He added that situation inside Tibet is even worse.
“The influx of Chinese tourist in Tibet, lack of AIDS awareness among Tibetans, the liberal culture of sex and the reluctant approach of Chinese government to address the menace have all added to the worsening of HIV/AIDS crisis in Tibet,” Yeshi said.
In response to a question from the media, Chomphel noted that CHOICE, in its six years of active service has overseen about 118 HIV positive cases out which, he added, 17 have died.