By -AbhinayKumarSharma : HIV/AIDS presents major challenges to human survival, human rights and human development with implications far beyond the health sector. The social and economic consequences of the epidemic are perhaps one of the most serious threats to sustainable human development.
HIV/AIDS is one of the fourteen major communicable diseases that affect the population in India. The government has formulated the National AIDS prevention and control policy with the objectives and goals: to prevent the spread of HIV infection and reduce any adverse economic and social impact, to generate a feeling of ownership among all the participants at government and non-government levels to make it a national effort, to create an enabling socio-economic environment for prevention of HIV/AIDS. The policy also aims at providing care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS and to ensure protection/promotion of their human rights. Efforts are also being made at promoting better understanding of HIV infection among people, especially students, youth and other sexually active sections to generate greater awareness about the nature of its transmission and to adopt safe behavioural practices for prevention.
The probable mode of transmission among the reported number of AIDS cases has been observed to be sexual mode of transmission, transmission from mother to child, blood and blood products and Injecting drug users.
Vulnerability of Women/Girls
There are a number of factors- biological, socio-cultural and economic, which make women and young girls more vulnerable to HIV. The major source of infection is through heterosexual transmission and as compared to men. Women are at a biological disadvantage in contracting the infection. HIV is more easily transmitted from men to women than women to men.
Infact, gender inequality and poverty are responsible for the spread as well as disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on women. Women in India have a low economic and social status and these gender inequalities get reflected in the sexual relations between husband and wife. There is also lack of availability of women controlled HIV prevention methods. Secondly, the cultural norms and attitude of society towards men of condoning multiple partnership or pre-marital or extra-marital sexual affairs of men, increases women risk of getting infected with the virus.
As a result of the low socio-economic status and limited educational opportunities, women and girls often lack basic information about HIV and AIDS.
Impact of HIV and AIDS on Women and Girls
Women and girls seem to bear the brunt of pandemic in many ways psychologically, socially and economically affects. To begin, it has been found that women PLWHA (Person Living with HIV/AIDS) are likely to suffer additional burden of stigma, discrimination and marginalisation. She becomes prey of rejection and expulsion by the family and community.
In India, it has been found that women in general have limited access to healthcare because of various social, cultural and economic reasons. Women’s access to healthcare is limited due to their status in society and household, arising from illiteracy, economic dependence on men and structures of patriarchy. Due to illiteracy they are unaware about different type of health information regarding HIV/AIDS.
Adolescent Education Programme
Adolescent Education Program is a joint initiative by Ministry of human Resource Development and NACO(Government of India) to equip every adolescent(child between10-19 years) with scientific information, knowledge and life skills to protect themselves from HIV infection and manage their concerns pertaining to reproductive and sexual health. AEP is an umbrella program to cover all the secondary and senior secondary schools of the country. The methodology adopted for AEP is interactive, participatory and based on life skills.