Matter of Life or Death
India is the seventh largest Country in the world, home to one billion people and vast ethnic diversity. It has been making great leaps with education, industrialization and technology. Literacy rates are continuously going up along with life expectancy. India has been making continuous progress in many aspects for a country that has been relatively poor and extremely poverty-stricken. India is also one of the world’s largest democracies meaning that citizens have a great deal of political freedom. The average Indian citizen lives in a rural area and consumes 30 times less resources than an American citizen consumes. Although India is making many improvements, there are certain issues that continue to creep around and into the lives of Indian people and will continue to do so for a very long time. HIV/AIDS is one of these issues, an issue that has been taking millions of lives and affecting the lifestyles of many Indian people. HIV/AIDS is one of the most concerning problems for India; it continues to manifest regardless of the many efforts made by the Indian government. HIV/AIDS is not just a problem that India must deal with; it has affected nearly every region in the world but every country and population responds to epidemics with a different approach and one must consider all the different aspects. In India, many unique factors have been linked with the growth, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The causes for the emergence of HIV/AIDS in India are still unclear however; some believe that foreign visitors that had sexual contact with the sex workers in India are to blame. Many believe this because initial cases were found in sex worker and truck drivers. HIV/AIDS emerged into India later than most other countries and the first cases were reported in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Studies also indicate that heterosexual sex was the method in which most initial cases occurred through. It was first identified in the early 80’s in sex workers from Tamil Nadu. The infection rates of the disease peaked in the early 90’s and it had made its way into low – risk individuals across the whole country in just ten years. (Avert, 2011) The most recent estimates state that there are currently 2.3 million individuals living with HIV in India and of that, 39% are females and 3.5% are children. Considering age as a factor, the highest infection rates occur in people aged 30-34 in India. HIV rates for the nation have been decreasing according to recent studies (NACO, 2007) and the area of southern India which was impacted the most by this epidemic has shown a decrease in infection rates (Kumar R., Jha P. et al., 2006). Seventy percent of infections are reported in six states: Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland and Karnataka. Currently the state of Andhra Pradesh holds the highest prevalence rate (1%) out of the 28 states and out of the high-risk groups in this Andhra Pradesh; the highest rate is among MSM (17%) (Avert, 2011). In recent years the rate of injection drug users has been increasing in many states and has given HIV an opportunity to spread. One of these states are Punjab in the northeast of India where a third of the population is addicted to drugs and has become one of the world’s leading areas in drug trafficking and usage (Glut, 2011). In the Punjab’s capital city Amritsar, the prevalence rate among IDU’s is as high as 30%. In many states of India drug use has become another concerning phenomenon that is helping with the spread of HIV/AIDS. Although the nation’s prevalence rates of HIV have decreased, it does not mean that the situation is getting better. This disease will continue to claim millions of lives because India does not have the equipment or resources needed in most areas; along with that the taboos, and stigma in India will negatively affect the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
The way that Indians think about HIV/AIDS plays a major role in treatment and...
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