Uninformed homosexuals, drug abuse spreading HIV November 27, 2006Posted by qmediawatch in Deccan Herald, English, Marginalization.
`Uninformed homosexuals, drug abuse spreading HIV’ New Delhi, IANS:
Poor awareness among homosexuals and the increasing use of contaminated drug syringes are the main reasons for the rise in HIV infections in northeast India. Poor awareness among homosexuals and the increasing use of
contaminated drug syringes are the main reasons for the rise in HIV infections in northeast India and also in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, states a new study.
“Poor knowledge of HIV has been found among homosexual groups. In Bangalore, for example, three out of four men who have sex with men do not know how the virus is transmitted, and a large proportion of them
engage in unprotected sex,” says the UNAIDS/WHO 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update. India has about 5.2 million HIV-infected people, according to estimates by the state-run National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). The UN report, however, puts the number of infected people in India at 5.7 million, of which 5.2 million are adults in the age group of 15-49.
Based on analyses done by NACO and researchers, the report says there has been very little study on the role of sex between men, but recent data has thrown up some disturbing trends — HIV prevalence among homosexuals in Chennai is 6.8 percent and 9.6 percent in Mumbai. “In some areas, a substantial proportion of men who have sex with other men also sell sex,” the report says, citing a large study in Andhra Pradesh that says one in four men sold sex to other men.
“Using contaminated injecting drug equipment is the main risk factor for HIV infection in the northeast (especially in Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland), and features increasingly in the epidemics of cities such as Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi.” As in the case of risk through homosexuality, the global report points to continued courting of
danger by drug addicts using injectable substances.The HIV/AIDS Update points out that in Chennai, 31 percent of injecting drug users were found to be HIV-infected. Another study of men seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections in Mumbai clinics showed that among those patients who injected drugs, 12 per
cent were HIV-positive, 80 per cent of who had sex recently (in the past three months) paid for it and 27 per cent of whom had sex themselves sold it.
“Harm reduction programmes need to be expanded as a matter of urgency in those parts of India with serious drug injecting-related HIV epidemics. Failing that, there is a possibility that the combination of injecting drug use and paid sex could lead to larger HIV epidemics,” the global report warns. As of 2006, several needle exchange programmes are operating in the northeast region, West Bengal and Delhi. However, only one project using substitution therapy has been started in the state of Manipur. Taking a critical view of the interventions in India, the report states, “Currently, interventions among injecting drug users tend to be inconsistent, too small and
infrequent to yield demonstrable results.”
The global report says the extent and effectiveness of India’s efforts to increase safe sex practices will likely determine the scale and development of India’s HIV epidemic.
The article does not address the how and why of marginalization of groups which is the reason for a lack of awareness.A case of treating the symptom as a disease.