The AIDS Epidemic in India

India, being one of the most populated countries in the world, is suffering due to its poverty and lack of health care, allowing AIDS to rapidly spread among the region. AIDS – the acquired immuno deficiency syndrome, is spread by a virus called human immuno deficiency virus, also known as HIV. It’s the preliminary stage of AIDS and it attacks our body’s immune system, and increases the vulnerability against other diseases that will eventually kill the infected person.

HIV does not kill the infected person instantly, but rather lingers in the body without noticeable signs, until the virus has wiped out the immune system. This process can take between six to eight years and is one of the reasons that the disease can spread unknowingly (Dube 5). AIDS is the later stage of HIV and is not curable. The symptoms for this disease include unexpected weight loss, enlarged glands, night sweats, diarrhea, fevers, chills and dry coughs. There is a limited amount of ways that the disease can spread, but the most prominent is through intercourse (Kalra 27).

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Other ways include blood transfusions, drug users that share a needle or syringe containing contaminated blood and through HIV positive women that give birth and transmit the disease to their infant. (On page 4 there is a graph that illustrates these modes) The reason for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India is because of poverty, illiteracy, lack of health care, drug abusers, and the oppression of Indian women (Dube 127). Poverty is one function that prevents the population from tools of prevention, such as condoms.

It also forces many women to become sex workers to provide for themselves and whomever else they are supporting. Because of poverty the population is illiterate and cannot become educated on the methods that will enable prevent them from contracting AIDS. The lack of health care is another result of the country’s poverty which holds the population back from getting the needed resources to deal with the epidemic. Furthermore, the drug abusing population shares their contaminated needles, which again spreads the disease. The most disturbing issue of how HIV/AIDS is spread is through the oppressed women.

This is because even if a woman remains faithful to her husband, she must comply with his sexual desires. The husband on the other hand might not have been faithful, which in turn means that he might have the disease and has given it to his spouse. If the spouse tries to obtain medical treatment for her disease it brings shame on her family (Dube 52). This is absurd because treating yourself when you are sick is a human right, but because of the limitations that women have in India, it is not. It is also considered indecent if a woman tries to obtain any kind of information regarding sexual issue (51).

It was not until 1990 that India changed its approach of treating HIV prevention. Because before only the “high-risk” group of the population was getting the disease. This group is classified as the lower cast, prostitutes, and drug abusers. But now the epidemic had spread to the mainstream Indian population (Dube 37). Before 1990 HIV prevention was seen as a “law-and-order” problem (85). In 1992 the central government took a constructive approach to prevent HIV. They borrowed eighty-four million dollars from the World Bank for HIV/AIDS prevention (86).

With this large sum of money they set up AIDS cells in all of the Indian states to guide this broad prevention effort (87). These cells used media, radio and the print to broaden the awareness of the epidemic. They also implemented a “University Talk AIDS” program that was launched in over 200 colleges around the country. The blood banks underwent cleaning of their blood supply. Despite all these efforts there was not enough impact to change the rapid spread of the disease (Dube 90). One of the reasons for this failure is that the government didn’t focus on changing the way that the disease was perceived.

Those who contracted the disease still felt ostracized from the population and the result is that they don’t seek medical treatment. Those who held treatment and prevention programs suffered the same consequences as those with the disease (101). Because the government’s failed in preventing the epidemic from spreading, the disease is now out of control and the World Bank estimates that in 2005 five percent of the countries population will contract AIDS (107). The only way that India can get a handle on their HIV/AIDS epidemic is by launching prevention programs to the larger public.

These programs must not discriminate against a persons’ sexual preference, gender or any characteristic about them. These prevention programs should issue condoms to anyone who is in need. They should also treat STDs and offer clean needles and syringes to the drug users. Furthermore, there should be sex education in school for teenagers and also to the public. Anonymous testing services should be offered and included in these services there should be a guarantee that no discrimination will fall upon those with HIV/AIDS.

There must be much stricter screening of blood and universal precautions in the medical setting (Dube 125). These programs will help lower the rate of infection, but if these programs are not implemented, then within every eighteen to twenty-four months the infected population will double. (Graph data is found in Kalra p. 26) Bibliography : Works Cited Dube, Siddharth. Sex, Lies and AIDS. India: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000. Kalra, R. M. Preventing AIDS among Industrial Workers in India. India: Vikas Publishing House PVT LTD, 1999.