India has almost 6 million people living with HIV/AIDS, the world’s highest number of people in one nation (although the prevalence is lower than in Africa). However about 40% of women in India have not even heard of AIDS, let alone know what to do to prevent its spread.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the most extensive study on health and nutrition in India, said in its latest report only 57 percent of women have heard of AIDS.
In rural areas, where most Indians live, less than half the women — 46 percent — were aware of the disease.
In the past few years, there has been a growing “feminisation” of the epidemic in India with nearly 40 percent of all those infected now being women, including housewives.
“Biologically, women are more susceptible to HIV,” said Christy Abraham of ActionAid-India. “The lack of awareness adds to the HIV threat they face.”
One reason for low awareness is that the government has focused prevention efforts on high-risk groups like prostitutes and intravenous drug users, rather than on the general population.
Disturbing, but not really surprising considering only 54 percent of Indian women are literate (compared to 76 percent of men). Actually the literacy rate seems to play a huge part in the disinformation: 80% of Indian men are familiar with AIDS (76% literacy rate) and 56% of Indian women are (54% literacy rate).
(Hat tip Darkman.)