Dr. Avnish Jolly ,3 June:The number of women living with HIV/AIDS is on the rise in the country and a recent NACO found that in majority of the cases the disease was passed on by polygamous husbands. Biological, socio-cultural and economic factors make women and young girls more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The HIV virus is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men .
The data indicates that a significant proportion of new infections is occurring in women who are in monogamous relationships and have been infected by husbands or partners who have multiple sex partners. It found that in India, women account for around 40 per cent of the approximately 3.5 million estimated cases of people living with HIV.
Hinduism is the oldest living culture in the world, with roots going back five thousand years and giving rise to other world religions including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Its followers believe there is one God with other gods and goddesses as facets or manifestations of that supreme God – a concept known as henotheism. Approximately 1 billion Hindus living around the world, around 90 percent reside in India. Bangladesh with 12 million Hindus, Nepal with 19 million, have significant numbers, as do Indonesia 4 million, Pakistan 2 million, Malaysia 1.5 million, Sri Lanka 1.42 million, United States of America (766,000), and South Africa 654,714. Hindus are also found in the UK, Bhutan, Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius, Suriname, Singapore, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Though the origin of collective Hindu thought cannot be ascribed to any single founder or associated with a specific time or a single place, the birth of different Lords are important reference points for Hindus. Important also is the period between 1500 –1300 BCE when the earliest Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, were written. Presently Hinduism, as it is commonly understood, is an outgrowth of the knowledge described in these scriptures. It embraces active work, it emphasises sacrifice and service to God and others, and it culminates in renunciation. There are unifying principles and values – most importantly truth, purity, compassion and selflessness – that provide guidelines for Hindus. In the Hindu world view, there is instead how individuals progress through successive stages of life, even across many lives. Hindus assess someone’s ability to nurture others not according to their chronological age but rather in terms of their psychological age and readiness to serve others. Mostly Hindus are living in South Asia hence the efforts must be initiated in the society for prevention, care, support and treatment programmes – including a faith-based response among Hindu leaders with special reference to women.
Hinduism encompasses a diverse body of religious, philosophical, and cultural practices. These major divisions are, however, subdivided further into a wide number of schools that follow individuals. With the diversity there are unifying principles and values that provide guidelines to Hindus. The most important are compassion and selflessness.
On the health status and health-seeking behavior of women, it says, there are significant gender differences in the percentages of untreated opportunistic infections (that further lead to HIV and AIDS). Not only the percentage of women’s illnesses, which go untreated, is higher than that of men, but in case of women, financial constraints turn out to be an important reason for not seeking treatment.
On the issue of HIV positive widows, according to my experience the HIV widow households are spending less on food. Religious sentiments’ plays vital role upon their mental health. The HIV-positive widows face many folds burden as a widow and an HIV-positive person. Hardly of them are living with their husband’s family and performing cultural and religious ceremonies. There is a need to empower adolescent girls and women by increasing their knowledge culture, religion, about their body and sexuality as well as about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), Reproductive Track Infections (RTI), HIV and AIDS in accordance with present context. The facilities for the treatment of STIs / RTIs should be made more accessible by strengthening the existing services at all levels of healthcare facilities.