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AIDS and The Woman

26 April 2012
Females in our society are at a greater risk of falling victim to this scourge. SANA RIYAZ reports

What is more important than a healthy life? Life is a blessing bestowed by the Almighty to each individual. Even the nature is bestowed with unseen life. However, there are some hurdles in its course and these often come in the form of incurable diseases such as AIDS.

Acquired Immuno–Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. The illness interferes with the immune system, making people with AIDS much more likely to get infections, including opportunistic infections and tumours that do not affect people with working immune systems. This susceptibility gets worse as the disease continues.

HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral and anal), contaminated blood transfusions and hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can be transmitted by contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid that has the virus in it, such as the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre–seminal fluid or breast milk from an infected person.


Although treatments for HIV/AIDS can slow down the course of the disease, there is no known cure or HIV vaccine. Antiretroviral treatment (ART) reduces both the deaths and new infections from HIV/AIDS, but these drugs are expensive and the medications are not available in all countries. Due to the difficulty in treating HIV infection, preventing infection is a key aim in controlling the AIDS pandemic, with health organisations promoting safe sex and needle–exchange programmes in attempts to slow the spread of the virus.

AIDS Among Women

Women are generally at a greater risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV. Biologically women are twice more likely to become infected with HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse than men. In many countries women are less likely to be able to negotiate Condom use and are more likely to be subjected to non–consensual sex.

At the end of 2010 it was estimated by a Government survey that out of the 34 million adults worldwide living with HIV and AIDS, half are women. The AIDS epidemic has a unique impact on women, which has make worse their role within society and their biological vulnerability to HIV infection. The responsibility of caring for AIDS patients is also an issue that has a greater effect on women.

Additionally, millions of women have been indirectly affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Women's childbearing role means that they have to contend with issues such as mother–to–child transmission of HIV.

Furthermore, marriage does not always protect a woman from becoming infected with HIV. Many new infections occur within marriage or long–term relationships as a result of intercourse with unfaithful partners.

"It was detected 16 years ago, when my husband seemed to have similar symptoms of HIV positive. He quickly visited a doctor for blood test. He was detected with HIV positive cells in his body. The Counselor advised him to get my blood cells tested. I went for the test, as advised. My blood cells were also detected with HIV positive. Further we were asked to get our daughter checked for the same. Fortunately she was detected HIV negative. It was becoming hard for us to live. Both of us had a psychological breakdown. But the counselors did a great job. Today both of us are under going ART and we are leading a happy and a prosperous life," said Sudha Tiwari (name changed) a home maker, Bhopal.

Consultant sexologist Dr Syed Kausar Hussain while talking about HIV AIDS told Viva City, "In our society people are not much aware about this deadly disease. People believe that sexual intercourse is the only factor of the occurrence of this disease. But there many other factors like injecting the same injection, in taking the HIV positive blood or getting addicted to drugs." He further said that women are usually counseled when they get a fear of having unprotected sex. But this is not the only reason for AIDS occurrence, he added.

All women in society are put in two categories: Females adopting 'sex work' (FSW) and females adopting other work (FOW). Females who become the target of the unsocial activity of 'rape' may also suffer from this fatal disease. Women who are victims of sexual violence are at a higher risk of being exposed to HIV, and the lack of Condom use and forced nature of rape means that the women are immediately more vulnerable to HIV infection.

A study of 20,425 couples in India by NACO found not only that HIV transmission was much greater in abusive relationships, but also that abusive husbands were more likely to be infected with HIV than non–abusive husbands.

Shaukat Alam, Research Officer at Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre, which is sponsored by the MP State AIDS Control Society, Hamidia Hospital, said, "Most probably it become difficult to detect AIDS among women at a very early stage. They usually do not prefer to get a check–up done."

He further said that in Bhopal the figures do not differ much between HIV positive women and HIV positive men. The ratio would be 60–40 per cent. Talking about the treatments, he said that at ICT centres, there are two kinds of treatments:

Treatment for Opportunist Infections

This treatment takes place at the very early stage of HIV positive and AIDS detection. Patient usually suffers from viral fever or TB. Medication for such infections is given to the patients.

Antiretroviral Treatment

When the virus starts to multiply in the blood cells, ART breaks down the intensity of the virus.

Knowing your HIV status is important with early detention, even an HIV positive person can also lead a normal life. It can only be done by adopting a healthy lifestyle by taking Antiretroviral Treatment.

There many steps taken for spreading awareness among the women regarding the HIV AIDS syndrome. Many governmental and non– governmental organisations are stepping forward for the same.

Increasing of education among women is the greatest factor, with which they are aware of this syndrome. It is the most effective tools in preventing HIV infection.

There are a number of things that can be done in order to reduce the effect of the dreaded disease among women. These include promoting and protecting women's human rights, increasing education and awareness among women and encouraging the development of new preventative technologies such as post–exposure prophylaxis and microbicide.

Women should be made aware of HIV/AIDS at an early stage. With such a step we can reduce the increasing rate of this phenomenon in society.

Moral Support from Society

Other than these few steps, the society should not spread discrimination for HIV positive patients. They are equally entitled for the same love and affection which is given to normal people, in the society.

One should fear of an HIV positive detection and should feel free to lead a normal life ahead.

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