New Delhi: If you happen to chance upon the Safdarjung train station in New Delhi over the next few days, don’t be surprised if, along with several over-friendly monkeys, you’re also greeted by brilliant splashes of colour and the overwhelming smell of fresh paint.
The Red Ribbon Express, a project of UNICEF and the Indian government, is currently parked at the station, as workers feverishly paint, sand and hammer in order to get the vehicle ready in time for its launch on December 1st, which is also World Aids Day. This is the second year that the Red Ribbon Express, which is meant to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS through India, will be traveling across the nation.
Although India currently has a HIV positive population of 2.3 million, awareness about the virus remains poor, and a heavy social stigma continues to surround the disease. The Red Ribbon Express aims to counter this by acting as a traveling exhibition that takes people on board to educate them about the virus – how it is contracted and transmitted, as well as what treatments are available.
The train’s itinerary takes it across the country where it will stop in towns and cities for one to three days at a time, encouraging people to learn more about HIV and AIDS through installations, messages, interactive displays and other mediums, as well as stop in for a session of counseling should they believe their risk level for the virus is high. The information on the train will change in language as the train crosses state borders. Expect the whole gamut – from Bengali and Oriya to Kannada and Tamil.
Mint paid a visit to the Red Ribbon Express earlier this week. Here’s a behind the scenes peek at what we saw.