Cycling from Kolkata to Bangladesh border for HIV/AIDS awareness

Kolkata, Nov 13 (IANS) Over a hundred cyclists, including transgenders, will take a ride all the way on Sunday from eastern metropolis to the Bangladesh border in West Bengal to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in the remote areas.

The AIDS RIDE 2015 is a mobile awareness campaign, a part of the 12th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP). The bicycle marathon will be flagged-off from Sonagachi in north Kolkata.

The participants, including those affected with AIDS, will pass through high prevalence districts and pockets of HIV to generate awareness on access to health services such as diagnosis, treatment, care and support.

“Initially, the plan was to ride all the way to Dhaka where the ICAAP will be held. But due to certain reasons, the event has been truncated till the Bangladesh border.

“But it will not affect the purpose of the marathon to encourage youth to access HIV services, without fear or prejudice protect and promote human rights,” Santosh Giri of the community-based organization Kolkata Rista, a key partner in the cause, told IANS on Friday.

Giri said as the cyclists make their way through rural Bengal, they will discuss about the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and talk about discrimination and gender-based violence.

The target group is adolescents, particularly girls. The cyclists are expected to reach the border on November 19, he added.

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