HIV/AIDS becomes progressively concentrated among poor populations in the less develop countries. Although, the develop countries learn to protect themselves and have the resources to make HIV/AIDS into a chronic, not deadly, disease, but the poor remain vulnerable. This is both a result of the characteristics of poverty itself - low education levels, gender discriminations, stigma, limited access to HIV/AIDS information or to health services - and the consequence of the lack of finances to fight the disease.
Poverty and gender discrimination are both strongly linked to the spread of HIV/AIDS. The poor regions in Africa, about 8 percent of all adults in this age group are HIV-infected. About 14,000 infections each day in the world and more than 95 percent of these new infections occurred in developing countries, and nearly 50 percent were among women.
Gender and age analysis shows the ways in which women and girls of various ages are vulnerable to the infection and in need of support to enable the survivors to overcome the economic and social effects of the epidemic. In fact, HIV/AIDS and poverty alleviation strategies are interconnected.
Certainly, adolescent girls’ prostitution is booming in Bangladesh. Adolescent girls engage or are forced into prostitution for trafficking or socio-economic reasons. But in addition to sexual exploitation, they face all sorts of violence. Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation carried out a recent field investigation, the research confirmed that adolescents girls’ prostitution is widespread in Bangladesh, although hidden at first sight from foreigners, especially in Dhaka city. Adolescent girls involved in prostitution are to be found in residence homes converted into brothels or in hotels. The majority are aged 15-18.
Women empowerment can prevent gender discrimination, which justifies a holistic approach of policies and programmes to reduce poverty and address HIV/AIDS. For example, poverty leads women into unsafe sexual encounters, and speeds the onset of AIDS-related illnesses. Violence against women and girls is common in societies with high instability or conflicts.
All these factors establish the fact that more females than males are being newly infected every day. It also indicates that women are more likely to contract HIV and fall sick with AIDS at a younger age than men.
In prevention strategies, adolescent girls do appear as a target group. The education sector, and schools in particular, should be often a major target for HIV/AIDS prevention programmes, via sex education and knowledge of condom-use. By the way we have to address or find out those who didn't get chance to enrol in these institutions.
We have to evolve different strategies to reach the messages to them. In addition, health education programmes which aim to empower women and girls to use condoms often fail adequately to tackle the actual problems because of imbalanced power relations. The desired changes in the behaviour of adolescent girls and boys cannot happen without programmes addressing such issues like how a girl can say no, but also why boys, teachers and other adults should respect the human rights of girls.
Recent research in North region’s three districts in Bangladesh by Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation has shown that while provide HIV information with discussions of safe-sex and gender issue may be discouraged for young girls and women because of the ordinary belief that to inform them about sexuality and safe-sex is to encourage sexual activity.
Even though that for fear of encouraging sexual activity, mothers deny imperative information about sexual-live, safe sex, reproductive health information from their daughters.
Health and education sectors can work together to develop prevention programmes in schools/colleges, which enhance awareness of gender inequality among boys and school/college staffs, as well as girls themselves. Such programmes also need to expand beyond the school boundaries to reach adolescent girls and boys who do not attend school/college or have dropped out. This may help reduce girls' continuing vulnerability to violence, coercive sex and HIV infection.
Bangladesh, HIV incidence is low, including among sex workers as with other populations, however, the incidence rises dramatically among those who use intravenous drugs. There are fifteen brothels, where 38000 sex workers are registered, and several NGOs regularly screened for various STDs, the few found to be HIV positive reported that they were drug users or had sexual partners who were.
Unprotected sex between sex workers and their clients, needle sharing and unprotected sex between men would become Bangladesh in a vulnerable reason.
In view of, the threat of AIDS and its possible consequences, all communities and NGOs involved in providing preventive & curative health services should give top priority to STD/STI & HIV/AIDS services, and increase the required resources sufficiently. There is also an urgent need to integrate reproductive health services with current family planning and maternal health services to expand their accessibility mainly to women.
Reference: Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation
Mohammad Khairul Alam
Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation
24/3 M. C. Roy Lane
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