Sexual Health in India: AIDS and HIV

India, currently being one of the most populous countries in the world is currently struggling with the vast spread of HIV and AIDS. This spread of this disease is of major concern since there are currently around 2.5 million HIV positive Indians and the spread has not slowed down. There are several problems that make this epidemic particularly hard to stop. The first is that there is simply not enough sexual education and aids awareness in the poverty stricken districts. This combined with the lack of condom use has resulted in the rapid spread of infections, especially among high risk groups such as sex workers, their customers and intravenous drug users. Another issue is the transmission of HIV from mothers to their infants. While this transference is preventable, it often occurs when the mother lacks knowledge of the disease, lacks funds to receive the anti-retroviral treatment, or is pressured not to take this action. A third major issue that interferes with the prevention of the transmission of aids is the culture itself. Many people see it as taboo to talk about sex related issues, and many are not willing to admit that sex occurs outside of marriages. Some of the organizations that are trying to help are the National AIDS Control Organization, which is a government run aids prevention program and UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. Both of these groups have attempted to raise AIDS awareness by increasing education and promoting safe sex habits (condoms).

An Anthropologist currently working in the field of AIDS and HIV study, particularly of that concerning childbirth transmission, is Cecilia Van Hollen of Syracuse University. She looks at the experiences of mothers throughout pregnancy, childbirth and nursing and how this is altered by HIV and AIDS. She also analyzes the transmission rates of HIV in India and how it often how negative cultural effects on the low class women.

1 thought on “Sexual Health in India: AIDS and HIV

  1. Cecilia Van Hollen authored the book “Birth on the Threshold: Childbirth and Modernity in South India.” In order to write this book she would have used ethnography to gather her information and to grasp an understanding of the Indian culture. Since that time it appears that she has been using the clinical model of anthropology. She has received grants from the Fulbright Foundation and grants from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the American Institute for India Studies for researching the Indian culture and how cultural beliefs influence women and the transmission of disease. She uses her findings to make suggestions to world health organizations in order to help them overcome the stigma and taboo that surround the topic of sex in India.

    By using ethnography to study culture in India anthropologists can begin to understand the meaning of sex, roles of women, and the meaning of sexually transmitted diseases within the country. Here Cecilia Van Hollen has based her research on that of women and their many roles in society. Through this research procedures can be designed to benefit the people of India that would not interfere with the cultural beliefs of that society. Without such research world health organizations would not know how to breach the cultural taboo concepts of sex within India.

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