Sunday, August 12, 2007

Risky Behavior Fuels Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in Low Prevalence Country

Risky Behavior Fuels Vulnerability
to HIV/AIDS in Low Prevalence Country

Anirudha Alam

Countries like Bangladesh where spread of HIV/AIDS is relatively slow nowadays have a window of opportunity to avoid more serious epidemics. Comprehensive access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in low prevalence countries should be ensured through strengthening integrated HIV/AIDS prevention programs and projects. In this regard, highlighting the priorities of an effective response to the epidemic, it is very much essential to take the exclusive scope to keep HIV at bay. It should be recognized that to scale up prevention, treatment, care and support is a vital right for all.

Encompassing enhanced access to inclusive treatment and prevention programs, significant developments have been found in recent years in global efforts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But due to practicing risky behavior, the number of people living with HIV is increasing consecutively. Diminution of national HIV prevalence is being brought about in some sub-Saharan African countries, though this kind of trend is neither remarkable nor long-lasting satisfactorily.

If there is low prevalence of HIV in a country it does not indicate that HIV prevention is low priority. Comprehensive access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in low prevalence countries may be promoted through developing a holistic and integrated national strategy plan with far-seeing and pragmatic targets for being achieved by 2010. To contain the spread of HIV epidemic, innovative HIV/AIDS prevention programs/projects have to be initiated complementing government efforts to orchestrate national strategic plan successfully through effective partnership as a whole.

Ensuring the involvement of civil society, NGOs, young people, religious leader as well as people living with HIV, a potential national AIDS coordinating authority comes in for maintaining profound linkages between national strategic plans and such other relevant programs as tuberculosis, sexual transmitted infection, reproductive health, general health care and so on. There is no alternative to mobilize human resources through improved management and capacity building for all aspects of HIV and AIDS prevention.

Greater availability of injectable drugs, stigma and discrimination towards people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, women trafficking, polygamy and early marriage may trigger epidemics on a large scale. Countries with low levels of HIV infection need sufficient funding, challenging and well-defined targets, and much-admired political and cultural commitment as well as community based well-planned social mobilization to strengthen support for national HIV/AIDS prevention programs. With an effective focus on prevention , enough financial and technical support have to be ensured to implement national strategic plans increasing significant participatory involvement in program design, implementation, advocacy and monitoring & evaluation.

In the context of developing countries, drug use is mostly a hidden subculture in the urban communities. According to the findings of BEES (Bangladesh Extension Education Services), 85% young people addicted in injecting regularly are severely vulnerable to ill health, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in Bangladesh. Therefore a great urgency exists to ensure availability of health care services which protect young drug users from contracting blood-borne viruses all along the country. On the other hand, Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation estimated that HIV prevalence among adolescent girls involved in such risky behavior as using drugs is higher than 60% in urban and suburban areas of Bangladesh. They must have access to health and social care services which provide support to change their high risk behavior and reduce the vulnerability caused by transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Injecting drug use, unprotected paid sex as well as unprotected sex between men considered as the centrality of high-risk behavior are fueling the skyrocketing spread of HIV/AIDS in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Two in three (67%) prevalent HIV infections in 2005 were caused by drug abuse in central Asia and Eastern Europe. Near about 13% of HIV infections was due to use of non-sterile injecting drug use equipment among sex workers and their clients in the same countries. So the countries with low levels of HIV infections have to improve surveillance systems that they may better understand the factors identifying obstacles and opportunities for scaling up national HIV prevention, treatment, care and support efforts.

Anirudha Alam
Deputy Director
(Information & Development Communication)
BEES (Bangladesh Extension Education Services)
183, Lane 2, Eastern Road, New DOHS
Mohakhali, Dhaka 1206

Phone: +8801718342876, +88029889732, +88029889733 (office)
+88028050514 (res.)


No comments: