Organizations Hold Conference To Discuss HIV/AIDS-Related Issues Among Women in Pakistan
The All Pakistan Women's Association in collaboration with the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the United Nations Population Fund on Monday launched a two-day workshop to discuss HIV/AIDS-related issues among women in the country, the Daily Times reports. According to workshop participants, women in the country should receive improved HIV/AIDS education because they are at an increased risk of the disease, often due to the behavior of their male sex partners. Other topics discussed at the workshop included:
- Women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS because of biological and socioeconomic factors, such as poor hygiene, low literacy rates, less mobility, limited access to health facilities and lack of decision-making powers;
- Sex education and negotiation of safer sex to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission; and
- Injection drug use, often among male partners.
Ayesha Khan of the National AIDS Control Program said that immigrants who are exposed to HIV through unprotected sex with people abroad often return home and transmit the virus to their spouses.
UNIFEM gender adviser Meagen Baldwin said it is a common misconception that HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted to a married woman. "Most of the HIV-positive women are infected from heterosexual sex or through their marital partners," she said. According to Baldwin, Pakistan's family planning policies focus on birth control or birth spacing but little on safer-sex practices. UNFPA Representative France Douney said poverty and lack of economic opportunities have increased Pakistani women's vulnerability to the disease. "The information regarding HIV/AIDS should be included into family planning policy, and health workers should be trained to guide others about prevention of sexually transmitted infections," Douney said.
National AIDS Control Program Representative Hassan Abbas Zaheer said that there are 4,000 registered HIV/AIDS cases in Pakistan but that more accurate estimates total 80,000, with 15,000 cases occurring among women (Khalid, Daily Times, 3/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.