Friday, November 25, 2005

Khushboo, Safe Sex and HIV/AIDS

Khushboo's advocacy of safe sex is relevant given the situation where India faces a significant HIV/AIDS challenge. National trends appear to indicate that there is no explosive HIV epidemic in India as yet. However, sub-national epidemics in parts of the country have the potential to spiral out of control. Hackneyed and cliched as this may sound, the widespread use of condoms alone will help prevent the spread of AIDS.

The UNAIDS Annual Report for 2005 makes interesting reading. 40.3 million people live with the HIV virus in the world today. 25.8 million reside in Sub-Saharan Africa. 5.1 million of the HIV-infected live in India. South Africa and India have the largest number of HIV infections in the world. South Africa has an HIV-prevalence of 21.5%. Fortunately, India is a low prevalence country given its huge population of 1.1 billion. The national prevalence rate is 0.91%. And yet, there is no room to be complacent. India reported 520,000 new infections in 2003 alone.

Over 35% of all reported HIV-infections in India occur among those aged between 15 and 24 years, 86% of whom got infected due to unprotected casual sex. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are at a real risk of an epidemic given a HIV-prevalence that exceeds the 1% danger mark. The number of districts in India that had a HIV-prevalence which exceeded 1% of the population rose from 47 in 2002 to 111 in 2004.

India will need to do more to fight AIDS. A nation-wide epidemic will overwhelm the public health system and pose huge fiscal burdens. It is obvious that heightened prevention efforts are needed to manage the emerging risk. Widespread condom use is crucial in this context. Improved epidemiological surveillance is needed as well. A more vigorous program of public awareness and health education is a third element in the prevention strategy. Khushboo's comments should be viewed in this light. The loud campaign in Tamil Nadu directed at her is therefore ill-informed and serves to detract from the real challenge ahead i.e. the need to contain a looming public health disaster. The issue she raised had nothing to do with the dignity of Tamil women. It was about safety and prudence.


Primary Red said...

Very well said.

doubtinggaurav said...


My take on this

doubtinggaurav said...


Thanks for what I do not deserve :-).

I only wish I could make half as reasoned arguements as many bloggers do(including of this blog).

I look forward to your comments in future.

PS. Apologies for being OT


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