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Women more vulnerable to AIDS, bear burden of HIV+ in families

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, July 23 (UNI) Women and girls are not only more vulnerable to HIV, they also have to bear an additional burden when someone in the family is infected with HIV and the situation of HIV positive women is the most deplorable, according to a recent study.

The study on the 'Socio-Economic Impact of HIV and AIDS in India,' conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and supported by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), found that not only does women's workload at home increase, but they are also required to take up employment to supplement the lost earnings.

They, moreover, face discrimination on several counts.

The burden of caring the People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) is proportionately higher in the case of women, whether or not they are themselves HIV positive, it pointed out.

The study also found that out of 882 caregivers in the families it surveyed, 627 were women, 91 per cent of them in the 15-59 age group. 20 per cent of the caregivers were themselves HIV positive, against 16 per cent in the case of men. One-third of the caregivers are employed, which means the burden can be extremely taxing.

In a clear indication of the gender gap in treatment seeking behaviour, close to 9.7 per cent of illness episodes were left untreated in the case of HIV and AIDS affected women, the study found, nearly double the case of men.

Also, women were more likely to get treated in health facilities run by the government or non-government organisations in comparison to a greater proportion of men being treated at private nursing homes. Only 29.8 per cent of the women surveyed went to private health facilities for non-hospitalised illnesses, against 41.3 per cent in the case of men. A similar picture can be seen in the case of hospitalised illnesses.

''Improving women's legal position relating to inheritance and property ownership as well as maximising their access to credit and their income-generating ability are needed to empower women," the study argues.

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