India Intelligence Report

   Indian woman faces high risk of AIDS



  • Housewives major risk group not targeted

  • Awareness in this area is low

  • UN estimates 5.7 million AIDS population in India but Government says it is 5.2 million

New survey data show that a majority of HIV-infected women did not report a history of multiple partners, intravenous drug use, or blood transfusions and seem to have been infected through sex with their infected husbands.

YR Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education cautioned that there is a need " to expand the focus to include married, monogamous women who may not perceive themselves to be at risk, but whose personal risk is inextricably linked to the behaviour of their husbands. As more and more women get infected, notions of risk group need to be redefined to more accurately assess potential for HIV infections."

The survey reported that in a study of 3,357 women more than 85% of those who tested positive had a single sexual partner leading to the conclusion that the women may have been infected by their husbands as they do not have a say in their husbands using condoms.

So far, awareness and intervention programs have targeted high risk groups such as sex workers and drug abusers. Because of this, experts say that the Indian homemaker’s understanding of the HIV risk she is facing, and even her awareness of HIV/AIDS, may be low. Centre for Advocacy and Research grimly concludes that "The housewife is under tremendous threat.”

A recent UNAIDS study said that there were an estimated 5.7 million Indians living with the deadly virus at the end of 2005 which is more than in any other country and ahead of South Africa's 5.5 million cases. The Indian Government dismisses this figure, saying the number of infections is at an estimated 5.2 million.