PRI’s ‘The World’ Examines HIV/AIDS’ Impact on Marriage Customs in India
"The World" -- a production of BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston -- on Wednesday reported on how HIV/AIDS is affecting marriage customs in India. Suniti Solomon -- founder of the not-for-profit YRG Centre for AIDS Research and Education, which provides HIV/AIDS testing, counseling and education programs -- said that for approximately 80% of her HIV-positive female patients, their only sexual partner is their spouse. Solomon recommends HIV testing for both partners before marriage. However, PRI reports that the decision of whether and whom to marry often is left to the parents and that asking a prospective spouse to take an HIV test typically has not been part of Indian tradition. According to Sasi Kumar, director of programs for the India HIV/AIDS Alliance, most Indian parents consider primarily the family's respectability when selecting a partner, not the individual's health status. Therefore, some doctors say premarital counseling and HIV testing should be mandatory. Legislation to require HIV testing before marriage has been proposed in several Indian states, but none has been approved. Critics of such legislation say that requiring HIV testing would violate privacy, stigmatize entire families when a family member tests positive and create a black market in false HIV-test results. A growing number of HIV-positive Indians are seeking HIV-positive partners through physician offices, support organizations, personal advertisements and at least one match-making agency, PRI reports. The segment also includes comments from several physicians specializing in HIV/AIDS (Fink, "The World," PRI, 3/1). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.