HIV-AIDS and Bangladesh
Global, HIV/AIDS epidemic constitutes one of the most burning threats known to mankind. The disease was discovered in 1981 and the causative agent was identified in 1983.Since then more than 30 million have died. Roughly 14 million children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS. By 2010 it is estimated that approximately 100 million people will have been infected and that there will be 25 million AIDS orphans worldwide. By 2006 an estimated 39.5 million (34.1- 47.1 million) people were living with HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the region hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic; more than two-thirds of all people with HIV/AIDS are in this region.
The impact of AIDS in Asia is amazing. The UNAIDS estimated 8.6 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Asia in 2006. But some AIDS researchers estimate about ten to twelve million Asians infected with the HIV virus, more than the total number of persons elsewhere in the entire industrialized world. Some Asian countries suffer from low per capita income, dramatic inequities in income distribution, and poor healthcare infrastructure, making it difficult or impossible to provide high quality medical care to those who need it.
HIV is spread through contact with infected body fluids such as blood and semen. Infected people may harbor the virus within their bodies for several years or even longer before developing symptoms of AIDS. Though symptomless, they can still infect others. Worldwide, most HIV transmission occurs during sexual relations between heterosexual partners. Transmission among homosexuality and drug addicts are others significant route of transmission in many countries.
Bangladesh is a Muslim conservative country, but its culture is different from other Muslim countries. As mentioned by AIDS researcher Mohammad Khairul Alam, “Since the join and traditional family system playing a vital role to prevent HIV/AIDS, this disease is not turning into an epidemic. Our religious belief, respect for other people's thought, politeness as a nation and restricted social system etc. and the education which we get from our families, are protecting us from many unsocial activities. But in these days, our social values and the social structure are facing a great threat following the western cultures. Family ties are breaking; pre-marital relation and unsocial activities are increasing day by day. That is why to protect the traditional social system and to make aware the people we have to be alert.”
According to the 5th surveillance report, this traditional social norm has started to change. It is clear that Bangladesh's conservative society is in denial. The HIV/AIDS was first case in Bangladesh in 1989. A total of 363 were reported to have been confirmed HIV positive until December 2003, of whom 57 have developed AIDS, out of which 30 persons have already died. According to data from UNAIDS/WHO there are approximately 13,000 estimated persons living with HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh which are confirmed by the 5th National Surveillance Team and Overall HIV prevalence rates among population groups most vulnerable to HIV infection is about 1% (Injection Drug User, Commercial Sex Workers and their client etc.). The prevalence is alarmingly increasing day by day in risky groups of people due to ignorance, poverty, lack of sex education and awareness, non-availability of diagnostic tools, equipment and medical support.
A national NGO in Bangladesh- 'Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation' identified four major approaches in a study on spread of HIV in Bangladesh. This study undertook by comparing of social-economic norm, family pattern, and economic dependency, cause of mounting sex industries, gender discrimination status and global analysis fact. There are four factors that appear to play a crucial role in HIV transmission in Bangladesh: Injection/ intravenous drug use (by sharing needle), female sex work (due to lack of safe sex knowledge), gender discrimination (which indirectly forces females to commercial or non-commercial sex), Same sex/ homosexually/ Hijara (due to lack of HIV/AIDS information, because they act invisible in this society).
Lack of knowledge may be creating most problems for Bangladesh of HIV/AIDS epidemic in future. While knowledge of HIV is nearly universal among sex workers and their clients, it is extremely low among the general population.
Mrs. Salina Mostary
PhD Student (Dept. of Social Science)
Faculty of M.S.S
University Putra Malaysia
(R) thedailystar.net 2006