Monday, 12 March 2007

India and HIV/Aids

It seems to me there is quite a lot of press and other coverage about the HIV/Aids situation in sub-Saharan Africa but not a very great deal about the situation in India.

An article in the BMJ by a second year medical student tells of his dismay when he heard, during a discussion about HIV/Aids, a professor say that there was no problem of homosexual transmission in India because there was no such thing as homosexuality. The responses to the article are also worth reading.

The writer also highlights the fact that sexuality in general is a taboo subject and that is the focus of a more recent article in the New Statesman, “Can a condom bar raise awareness about HIV in India?” by Preeti Jha.

When trying to find out more she attempted to speak to the organiser of the condom bar but he refused to discuss such a subject with a woman. She found similar attitudes everywhere so no surprise then that 30% of students in Chandigarh practise unsafe sex.

Apparently India now has the dubious honour of being the country with the highest number (5.7 million) of people living with HIV, according to a report from the UN, having recently overtaken South Africa. Without a focus on education, and from an early age, with media cover to reinforce the messages, it is hard to see how there will be any improvement.

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