HIV infections spreading to rural India | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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HIV infections spreading to rural India

PTI | ByVijay Soni (HindustanTimes.com), New Delhi
Mar 11, 2005 09:50 PM IST

A US report observed stigma and misinformation about HIV transmission remains high, writes Vijay Soni.

HIV infections are fast spreading from cities and towns to villages and suburban areas in India, infecting more and more women, says a recent report of US Agency for International Development (USAID).

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The agency, which carried out a series of studies on HIV infections in India's 'hot spot', has concluded that despite awareness about the disease having increased, the danger has spiralled with high-risk people indulging in unsafe sex with their regular partners (husband, wife).

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"Condom use among prostitutes and truckers are high, but healthy practices are lacking when these high risk people are with their regular partners," says the report.

The report further observed that stigma about the disease and inaccurate information about how it is transmitted remains high. "HIV/AIDS in India is at a critical stage and decision-making data is our only reconnaissance," says George Deikum, USAIDS (India) chief.

The agency carried out two behaviour surveys of people who are at high risk in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry and a study of infection rates in Maharashtra. It pointed out that whereas HIV infection rates are on a downward trend in Tamil Nadu the risky behaviour of poor male youth in Maharashtra posed a serious threat.

According to the study, the rates of sexually transmitted infections in Tamil Nadu were similar in rural and urban areas at 0.7 per cent. In the prostitutes, the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were as high as 56 per cent.

But whether STIs could be a real marker for tracking HIV infections has not yet been conclusively proven. Nonetheless, experts are unanimous that women are more susceptible to contracting the HIV infection than men.

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