BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 14:01 GMT
India Aids awareness urged
Indian scientists
India is developing cheap anti-Aids drugs
Public ignorance is fuelling the spread of HIV across India, according to the United Nations.

An estimated 1% of India's one billion population has HIV. However, experts believe the true figure may be substantially higher.

There are also fears that the number of new cases could rise rapidly in the years ahead unless public awareness of the disease improves.


A major challenge for India now is that of rapidly expanding the coverage of HIV/Aids programmes to all vulnerable groups

UNAids report
A nationwide survey, carried out earlier this year, showed that across the country awareness of HIV is high.

About three-quarters of Indians over the age of 15 knew that using condoms can prevent sexual transmission of the disease,.

Huge variations

However, the figure masks huge variations in different parts of the country.

Knowledge of HIV is particularly weak in rural areas and among women.

Over 80% of men in urban areas recognised the benefits of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV. However, among women in rural areas that figure was just 43%.

The survey also show that the most vulnerable people in Indian society are most at risk of contracting HIV.

Indians who cannot read are six times less likely to use a condom during casual sex compared to those who finished secondary school.

Similarly, people living in rural areas are half as likely to use a condom compared to those living in cities.

But the survey showed that public education campaigns can make a difference.

Figures from the Indian state of Maharashtra, which has high levels of infection, show that the safe sex message is getting across.

There, an average of two out of three people in at risk groups - female sex workers, their clients and injecting drug users - said they consistently used condoms.

"This may have helped prevent the state's epidemic from spinning out of control," says a report by UNAids.

Safe sex message

The survey highlights particularly groups of Indian society where the safe sex message just isn't getting across.

For instance, it found that just 39% of men who have sex with men regularly use condoms. One three of these men also said that they have sex with women many without a condom.

The UNAids report said the findings highlighted the need for the Indian governmend and individual states to take concerted action to ensure the safe sex message gets across.

It states: "A major challenge for India now is that of rapidly expanding the coverage of HIV/Aids programmes to all vulnerable groups.

"Flanking that is the broader challenge of ensuring that the response reaches young, illeterate populations and rural communities, especially women."


Key stories

Case studies

Background

CLICKABLE GUIDE

TALKING POINT

FORUM
See also:

01 Dec 01 | South Asia
21 Nov 02 | South Asia
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes