Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) takes over SAADHAN (022 - 2411 4000) helpline from the PSI banner

Top Quote The helpline will offer free counseling to caller, simultaneously maintaining the confidentiality of the caller. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) September 20, 2011 - Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) has taken over Saadhan helpline from the PSI banner. The helpline (022 2411 4000) provided HIV, AIDS and Family Planning related information and counseling to thousands of callers from India and abroad under the PSI banner for last 15 years. The PSI Helpline counselors have been absorbed into the MDACS helpline program and the helpline has been re-launched as the MDACS Saadhan Helpline officially. The helpline will offer free counseling to caller on HIV & AIDS, simultaneously maintaining the confidentiality of the caller.

    'Saadhan Helpline is the answer to the common man's inhibitions. Since HIV / AIDS is a subject that is related to sex which is a taboo in the Indian Society, it becomes very difficult for the common man to talk about it. Everyone is curious but no one knows how to get access to information. There is fear of being stigmatized. Hence people dont talk about it. But with the HIV AIDS Helpline, was born the concept of confidentiality of identity. A person can call on the helpline and does not have to worry of being identified. He feels free to access information, and can get all his queries clarified', said Dr.S.Kudalkar, Project Director, Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS)

    With years of experience in provision of HIV & AIDS related services in India and the Mumbai Saadhan Helpline's active collaboration in the HIV/AIDS field, Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) showed keen interest for the helpline to be carried forward and received NACOs approval to integrate the HIV/AIDS Helpline into MDACS. PSI entered in an agreement with MDACS for transfer of Helpline software and hardware instruments (server, EPBX etc) and PSI transitioned the Saadhan helpline to MDACS (022-2411 4000) in April 2011.

    Technical assistance along with Training of counselors and support for regular supervisions and case discussions is being provided to counselors by those experienced in the field of running an HIV AIDS helpline. There is a generation of mass media campaigns promoting the helpline all year round and the helpline is being incorporated in all campaigns and IEC materials in Maharashtra. The MDACS Saadhan Helpline has received more than 250 calls within the first month of operations and the current call rate is up to 400 calls per month. The Saadhan counselor solves queries of the common man on HIV AIDS. Counseling is free of cost and confidentiality of the caller is maintained.

    Vinitha Venkat, Joint Director, IEC Communications, MDACS said, "Communication is a challenge in the field of HIV. There is a need to bring about a change in behavior which is a challenge in itself since we need to affect the attitude and beliefs of people. Further, when it is related to a subject such as sex and HIV, it is an even bigger challenge to communicate. Access to information is the most important factor in the 'Prevention of HIV' and Saadhan helpline encourages people to have access to information. It is also helpful for those who are positive and want to talk to someone without disclosing their identity. The Saadhan counselors are very compassionate and supportive while dealing with positive patients as well".

    The USP of the MDACS Saadhan helpline:
    Saadhan Helpline was launched at a time when access to information and counseling on HIV-related issues were largely unavailable. Mass media ensured that the helpline had a sustainable caller inflow. The helpline helped effectively reach vulnerable populations and successfully counseled at-risk youth, a group that engages in significant high-risk behavior and holds numerous myths and misconceptions since they do not have access to correct information. Since its inauguration, the PSI Mumbai Saadhan Helpline has attended to over 1,32,000 calls.

    Origin of Saadhan Helpline

    PSI initiated a manned HIV/AIDS helpline in 1994 with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, at a time when access to information and counseling on HIV-related issues were largely unavailable. In 2002, under the USAID-funded Operation Lighthouse (OPL) Project, the helpline, was re launched in a new set up with the latest computer software technology and branded "Saadhan" Helpline. Under OPL, the revamped helpline was successfully launched and promoted through the Balbir Pasha campaign - a groundbreaking awareness drive and influential call to action reaching over to two million people across Mumbai.

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