Trust net of marriage makes women vulnerable to HIV: experts

December 2nd, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Citing examples of sex workers who insist on using condoms with their customers but not with their partners at home, experts at the National Consultation for Women Living with HIV here Tuesday said that the “trust net” of marriage makes women vulnerable to HIV.”The trend is that only when a woman’s husband is detected HIV positive and falls ill does she go for a check up. Or when she is pregnant, then at the time of the ante-natal test, does she go through a HIV test,” Anandi Yuvraj of the International Community for Women Living with HIV said.

“In the case of married couples, trust plays such a role that most women do not insist on using a condom with their partners. This can sometime have drastic results, especially since women are very vulnerable to HIV,” Yuvraj added.

According to experts, 80 percent of women who are HIV positive get the infection from their partners.

More than 120 HIV positive women from 11 states including Gujarat, West Bengal, Manipur, Mizoram and Kerala have come together for a four-day convention on women and HIV that began Monday.

According to experts from United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), UNAIDS and others working on the issue, 75 percent of the wives of HIV positive men are not infected.

“Conversely, among all married HIV positive women, 39 percent of their husbands are negative. This means that with correct intervention, the spread of the infection can be stopped,” P. Kousalya, president of the Network of Positive Women in India, told IANS.

“Choice is a very important word in this context. You have to understand that you have the option to choose not to get the infection by insisting your partner to use a condom,” she added.

Thoibi Salam of Manipur, who participated in the convention, added: “In the northeast, drug abuse is a major problem. The growing number of intravenous drug users are making an increasing number of people vulnerable to HIV.

“The choice in this context is for people not to get influenced by their peers, or wives by their husbands”.

Kousalya said that the problem of intravenous drug users becoming vulnerable to HIV is, however, not confined to the northeast.

“Kerala is also facing the same problem now. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is, therefore, planning to concentrate on that area, besides the northeast,” she said.

According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), there are 2.5 million people in India who are HIV positive. Nearly 40 percent of them are women.

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