[ Friday, March 03, 2006 04:53:51 pmIANS ]
NEW DELHI: Comprising 40 per cent of India’s HIV infected population, women in the country are gradually becoming more susceptible to the disease, UN experts said here on Friday.
"Women are biologically more susceptible to HIV infection. Besides, gender disparities, lack of education and trafficking of women are making the situation worse," said Archana Tamang, chief of the women’s human rights and human security unit, United Nations Development Fund for Women.
India has over five million AIDS / HIV infected people, including over two million women.
Tamang said: "We need to be focussed to create awareness among women between the ages of 15 and 29."
She said the role of the government, peer education and others needs to be redefined. Family members also need to provide full support.
"These people never lack in skill and efficiency but what they need is emotional support."
Giving a global perspective on women infected with HIV, Tamang said out of 21 million deaths due to AIDS, nine million were accounted for by women and over four million by children.
Denis Broun, country coordinator, UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS), said: "Since a lot of stigma is attached to the disease, women do not come forward to take medical help."
Out of the five million HIV / AIDS population, only an estimated 65,000 people are taking medical help. While 25,000 are getting treatment in public hospitals and 10,000 are under the guidance of NGOs. Around 30,000 are getting treatment in private healthcare facilities.
"Women’s vulnerability is due to two main reasons – one, the lack of adequate awareness among the community and second, their husbands. Last year around 80 percent of the women infected were through their husbands," Broun told IANS.
"The need of the hour is to reach out to young women living in extremely difficult and marginal circumstances."
However, he said India was doing a commendable job in controlling HIV infection through blood transfusions. "In the last three to four years, the country has really made tremendous progress transfusing quality blood," he said.