Health Experts Urge China, India To Consider Thailand’s HIV/AIDS Programs To Curb Spread of Disease Among Women
Some health experts have urged China and India to consider modeling their national HIV/AIDS programs on Thailand's successes to curb the spread of the disease among women in both countries, the Bangkok Post reports (Kumar et al., Bangkok Post, 8/4). According to a recent study conducted by India's National AIDS Control Organization, National Council of Applied Economic Research and the U.N. Development Programme, women in India account for around two million, or 39%, of the nation's estimated 5.2 million HIV-positive people, and a large number of new HIV cases occur among monogamous women whose husbands or partners have multiple sex partners. In addition, women are less knowledgeable than men about the disease, the study finds. About 63% of men knew that HIV/AIDS could be prevented, compared with 51% of women, according to the study (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/1). In China, the government estimates that there are 650,000 HIV-positive people in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/12). Women in China account for 28%, or 180,000, of the total number of HIV-positive individuals, according to government estimates. "The Chinese government has recognized an 'alarming shift' in the pattern" of new HIV cases since the 1990s, when about 85% of HIV-positive people were men, according to the Post. The increase in HIV transmission among women in China and India is attributed mainly to poverty, poor education, sex trafficking, social stigma, lack of empowerment and labor mobility, the Post reports. In addition, "Women are more prone to HIV because of the gender bias; they are not in a position to negotiate condom usage by their partners or refuse sex," Kalyani Subramanian, of the Naz Foundation, said. To reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases among women in China and India, some health experts have urged the countries to implement HIV/AIDS programs modeled on those initiated in Thailand -- including condom distribution, HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns, no-cost exams in public clinics and programs that offer small business loans to pairs of HIV-positive and HIV-negative people who agree to become community ambassadors for HIV-positive people. According to the Post, the Chinese government has partnered with the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations to spread HIV awareness and distribute free condoms. In addition, the U.N. Development Programme in China last month in the southwestern border province of Yunnan, began a pilot project called the "positive partnership project," which offers small business loans to women. The program is "pretty promising," Edmund Settle, HIV/AIDS program manager for UNDP, said, adding, "It's one of the first projects in China that links HIV to poverty" (Bangkok Post, 8/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.