Indian National AIDS Control Organization Study Shows Varying Level of HIV/AIDS Awareness in Indian Cities
AIDS awareness, especially among high-risk groups in Kolkata, India, is "shockingly low" compared with other cities in the country, according to the Indian National AIDS Control Organisation's National Baseline Behavioral Surveillance Survey for 2001 and 2002, the Times of India reports. According to the study, 5.9% of high-risk males in the city had never heard of AIDS, compared with 3.7% high-risk males in Bangalore, 2.3% in Delhi, 2.2% in Chennai and 1.1% in Mumbai. In addition, the study showed widespread misconceptions about how the virus is transmitted, with 30% of the individuals surveyed in Kolkata saying that sharing a meal could spread HIV, compared with 11.5%, 13.4% and 15.7% in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, respectively, and 45.2% of people surveyed in Kolkata saying that mosquitoes spread HIV. Approximately 89.7% of individuals surveyed in Chennai, 88.5% in Bangalore, 81.3% in Delhi and 75.6% in Mumbai correctly identified the spread of HIV by mosquitoes to be a "complete" misconception. According to the Times, the ignorance about HIV in the region is attributed to the relative lack of awareness programs. Only 11.9% of respondents in the city reported having attended an AIDS awareness program, compared with 85.3% in Chennai, 72.1% in Mumbai, 54.8% in Bangalore and 37.1% in Delhi. The area has also seen an increase in new HIV infections, with West Bengal recording 1,131 new cases in 2002 -- more than the total number of HIV cases recorded in the previous decade in the state (Ghosh, Times of India, 6/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.