Young Women, Including Married Women, Increasingly Contracting HIV, U.N. Official Says
HIV/AIDS increasingly is affecting young women, including married women, Lucita Lazo, regional program director for the United Nations Development Fund for Women, said on Thursday in Bangkok, Thailand, the AP/Hindu reports. Although HIV/AIDS often is associated with men, drug users and sex workers, more women who previously were thought to be at low risk for the disease are becoming infected, Lazo said (AP/Hindu, 6/24). "What used to be a disease that is prevalent among so-called high-risk populations ... is now among the low-risk population, and that means average, ordinary, monogamous relationships," Lazo said, adding, "It's not just sex workers, it's normal housewives faithful to their husbands who are picking up the epidemic" (Agence France-Presse, 6/24). Lazo urged officials and parents to provide greater access to treatment and care for HIV-positive women and increase prevention measures to break the "culture of silence" and stigma surrounding the disease, according to the Associated Press (Lovering, Associated Press, 6/24).
The Malaysian AIDS Council on Wednesday released statistics showing that between 1986 and 2003 more married women and children contracted HIV than sex workers, according to the New Straits Times. According to the statistics, 1,120 married women and 467 children under age 12 contracted HIV between 1986 and 2003, compared with 347 sex workers during the same period. MAC President Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir said that the "alarming revelation" would require a review of HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaigns, according to the Times. Marina said the campaigns had been focused only on sex workers and drug users, according to the Times. "We are not sending the right message," Marina said, adding, "People should be made aware there is actually a link between these two high-risk groups and the public." Although the overall number of new HIV cases in Malaysia decreased by 3% in 2003, the number of cases among women increased by 7%, according to the statistics, the Times reports (Maria, New Straits Times, 6/24).