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UN ranks India worst for AIDS

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  • Willy John Daniel, Melbourne, Australia
    A recent report released on 30th May 06 by the United Nations AIDS program stated that India has 5.7 million infected people at present, making it the larger
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2006
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      A recent report released on 30th May '06 by the United Nations AIDS program
      stated that India has 5.7 million infected people at present, making it the
      larger than the 5.5 million infected in South Africa. After speaking to some
      of the South Africans of Malayalee stock who has migrated to Australia
      recently, I get the impression that the prevalence of HIV infection was a
      factor in their decision. The driving force for this translocation was their
      fear of their children coming to harm by taking part in contact sport and by
      the escalating rate of violence in that country. Yet when one sees the above
      statistics, one wonders whether those South African Indians returning to
      their 'home country', has jumped from the frying pan into the fire!

      The total number of AIDS infected persons in the world comes to tens of
      millions. Even though the rate of HIV AIDS infection in India is only 0.9 %
      of the population compared with 18.8 % in South Africa, because India's
      population is 1.1 billion, the total number comes to this staggering 5.7
      million. In India it is estimated that only 7 percent of those who need
      antiretroviral drugs receive them, and only 1.6 % of pregnant women who need
      treatment receive them.

      In India the infection is seen mainly among sex workers, intravenous drug
      users, in gay men, the so called marginalized section of the community, but
      they are important in the spread of the disease In some societies, multiple
      or casual sex partners together with violence against women are a major
      contributing factor in the spread of the HIV infection. In India the huge
      number of men employed in long distance transportation and the large numbers
      of men living away from home for months on end, on account of their work,
      are especially at risk.

      The survey suggest that ending this pandemic will depend largely on changing
      social norms, like empowering women, reducing the stigma of the disease and
      encouraging a reduction in the sex partners. Alarmingly, the report also
      showed that fewer than 50 % of the young people achieved comprehensive
      knowledge levels about HIV and any kind of HIV prevention. The draft also
      shows that religious conservatives in many countries around the world are
      contributing to this ignorance.

      The report states that four Indian states that showed a drop in new
      infections were Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. This
      shows that public health efforts are reaching to at least a small portion of
      people in the country.

      We will not succeed in this struggle by putting our heads in the sand and
      pretending that these people do not exist or they do not need help.

      Willy John Daniel, Melbourne, Australia
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