UNAIDS India partners with Reckitt Benckiser to distribute over a million bars of soap to people living with HIV
New Delhi, India, 23 April 2020 — In India, the UNAIDS Country Office has partnered with Reckitt Benckiser (RB) by joining forces to distribute over a million bars of soap to people living with HIV and key populations.
The soaps are being distributed through networks of people living with HIV, civil society organizations and community-based organizations as part of the national response to the COVID-19 epidemic. They have reached people in several states and union territories, including Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. The soaps are being delivered to communities through outreach workers, who are also dispensing antiretroviral medicines and other HIV commodities, sometimes direct to the doorsteps of people who need them.
“Undertaking an initiative of such dimensions during a period of lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic is a clear demonstration of the commitment from UNAIDS and RB to fight for the health, well-being and human rights of the most vulnerable people in society—the people left behind,” said Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director for India.
There is currently no strong evidence that people living with HIV are at an especially increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or that they experience worse outcomes if they do contract it. This does not mean, however, that people living with HIV should take COVID-19 lightly; rather, they must take all precautions to protect themselves. As in the general population, older people living with HIV and HIV-positive people with other health conditions may experience severe symptoms if they develop COVID-19, which may lead to a poor prognosis.
“The soaps have helped communities to take precautions and protect themselves from COVID-19, to keep washing hands and maintaining good hygiene and health,” said Mona Balani from the National Coalition of People Living with HIV in India.
Public health measures are critical in slowing the spread of COVID-19. They include everyday preventive actions, such as staying home when sick; covering the mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing; disposing of used tissues immediately; washing hands often with soap and water; and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.