//38% HIV-hit in India are women

38% HIV-hit in India are women

Kounteya Sinha

NEW DELHI: More than 38% of those living with HIV in India are women, most having acquired the virus from regular partners who were infected during paid sex. According to the 2006 AIDS epidemic update compiled by UNAIDS and WHO, which was released on Tuesday, unprotected heterosexual intercourse is the cause for the bulk of HIV infections in India.

Over 5.7 million of the 8.6 million people living with HIV in Asia are from India, most of them adults aged between 15 and 49. According to the report, India is experiencing a highly varied HIV epidemic which appears to be stable or diminishing in some parts while growing at a modest rate in others. In some rural areas, the prevalence of HIV ranges between 1.1% and 6.4% among adults, underlying the varied character of the epidemic.

Six of the country’s 28 states account for nearly two-thirds of the HIV cases, the highest prevalence rates being found in the Mumbai-Karnataka corridor, Nagpur, the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh and parts of Manipur and Nagaland. Risk-taking during paid sex is commonplace in India. This, despite surveys showing that 54% and 49% of sex workers in Mumbai and Pune respectively are HIV positive.

The report says despite the fact that very little research has been done on gays in India, the data collected has revealed HIV prevalence among gays in Chennai and Mumbai at 6.8% and 9.6% respectively in 2004. The number now stands at 12% for Mumbai and 18% for AP.