HIV awareness high among Indians
29 October, 2007
Women and men in India have a high
level of awareness about the use of
condoms in preventing the acquired
immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
A recent survey conducted by the
United Nations revealed that 95% of
Indian males believe that condoms can
prevent spread of disease and 70% of
women know where to get them.
A report released after three years of
awareness campaigns, jointly organised
by UNAIDS and India’s National AIDS
Control Organization (NACO), found
“dramatic results in key areas of
reproductive health knowledge,
awareness of human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) and sexual rights.”
The campaign – nicknamed ‘CHARCA’ –
had focused on six high-prevalence
districts in six different states of
India – Aizawl, Bellary, Guntur,
Kanpur, Udaipur, and Kishanganj.
The incidence of sexually transmitted
infections (STIs) across the districts
is down from 55% to 17%. Only 5% of
women in Guntur, 6% of women in Kanpur,
and 8% of women in Kishanganj were
willing to accept husbands with
The joint study by the UNAIDS and the
National AIDS Control Organization
also found that the percentage of
young women who know where to get male
condoms has increased.
Across all districts, the belief that
condoms protect against HIV/AIDS has
increased from 65% to 95% among all
men, the report said.
Awareness of single-partner sex as a
preventive measure against sexually
transmitted infections increased to
76% across the six districts.
However, the survey also threw up a
seamy side – there has been an
increase in sexual violence on women
in the form of forced sex.
Of those surveyed, 43% of women in
Kanpur, followed by 17% of women in
Kishanganj, and 8% of women in Aizawl
said they were forced to have sex with
Dennis Broun, country coordinator of
UNAIDS, observes, “This is just the
first step as we need to do a lot in
terms of working consistently.”
Though the survey showed that there is
a reduced vulnerability of young women
between the age group of 13 to 24 from
HIV infection, there is a huge gap
between the perception and the
behavior of women, Dennis Broun said.
If empowerment of women has to be
reached, perhaps this knowledge needs
to be translated into a consistent
behavioral pattern, the report of the
study by the UNAIDS-National AIDS
Control Organisation stressed.