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Men more aware about HIV/AIDS, yet more affected

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Men are more likely than women to have comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS; yet the disease is more prevalent among men, an analysis of government data shows.

The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS-4) takes comprehensive knowledge to mean knowledge regarding consistent use of a condom during every sexual intercourse. Nationwide, 21 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men have comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS, the survey showed.

Among other conclusions, the survey emphasised that mutually-exclusive relations with one partner can reduce one’s chances of getting HIV/AIDS; a healthy-looking person can have HIV/AIDS, so using a condom is a must for every sexual encounter; and Indians must reject common misconceptions about transmission or prevention of HIV/AIDS.

Some such misconceptions include: Sharing food, cutlery, and clothes spreads AIDS; both partners have HIV, so no protection is needed; and you cannot have sex with an infected person without acquiring HIV/AIDS.

In 31 of the 35 states and Union territories (UTs) surveyed, more men display comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS than women. Only in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Puducherry and Daman and Diu was there greater awareness among women.

About 49 per cent of women in Punjab have comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS, the highest among all states. The lowest figures are 9.3 per cent in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and 9.4 per cent in Assam.

Despite higher levels of awareness, men are more affected than women — both in absolute numbers and proportionally. Of the 2.1 million HIV/AIDS affected people across India, 1.26 million (60 per cent) are men, according to National AIDS Control Organisation’s (NACO) India HIV Estimations Report 2015.

The HIV prevalence rate among adults nationwide is 0.26 per cent — 0.30 per cent for men and 0.22 per cent for women. This puts the number of HIV cases in India behind only those in South Africa and Nigeria. Yet 56 per cent of infected Indians do not get the drugs they need.

However, the trend between the sexes seems to be reversing — infections among men declined three per cent from 1.29 million in 2012 to 1.26 million in 2015, while infections among women rose 1.38 per cent from 0.84 million to 0.85 million over the same period.

Infection rates have been on the increase among women and infants in some states, especially in rural areas, for a while. One possible explanation of this rise is migration. There are an estimated 7.2 million migrant workers in India, of whom 0.99 per cent has HIV, according to a NACO estimate. Three in four women testing positive have a husband who is a migrant labourer, according to a 2014 report by UNAIDS India.

This trend may worsen with faster migration — 2016 reported faster rural-to-urban migration due to a collapse in rural jobs.

Barring Daman and Diu, across 35 states and UTs, more men than women are aware that consistent condom use can reduce the chances of getting HIV/AIDS. Yet, over the eight years to 2016, the use of contraceptives has declined almost 35 per cent, as abortions and consumption of emergency pills — both accompanied with health hazards and medical side-effects — doubled.

Social awkwardness, often induced by lack of privacy in stores, hinders condom use, a 2011 study among unmarried men from rural Madhya Pradesh showed.

A perceived link between masculinity and risky sexual behaviour also impacts condom use. Socially constructed masculinist ideals of “sexual conquest”, experimentation and entitlement are major contributing factors to risky sexual behaviours which include unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners, according to a 2005 study conducted in Uttar Pradesh by University of North Carolina researchers.

However, the category “men” is heterogeneous — it includes heterosexual and homosexual men, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM, regardless of whether they identify themselves as male or female). There are 0.43 million MSM in India, and 4.3% of them are living with HIV, according to NACO’s 2015-16 annual report.

MSM, truck drivers, sex workers and injecting drug users are classified as vulnerable groups in India, although HIV/AIDS prevalence in these groups has declined over the past few years, thanks to longstanding targeted interventions focusing on behaviour change and increased condom use.

HIV prevalence rate highest in Manipur, but Andhra Pradesh reports maximum cases

At 1.15 per cent, Manipur has the highest estimated adult HIV prevalence rate, followed by Mizoram (0.8 per cent) and Nagaland (0.78 per cent). However, in absolute terms, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have the maximum number of cases (0.39 million) of people living with HIV, followed by Maharashtra (0.3 million) and Karnataka (0.19 million).

HIV prevalence at the national level has declined from an estimated peak of 0.38 per cent in 2001-03 to 0.26 per cent in 2015, which can be attributed to large-scale implementation and high coverage of India’s AIDS programme.

In October 2016, the Union cabinet approved amendments to the HIV-AIDS Bill 2014 to safeguard the rights of people living with AIDS or recently affected by HIV. According to the proposal, every HIV-positive or AIDS-affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy its facilities. The bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV-positive persons and those living with them.

However, certain aspects of the bill have received criticism. For instance, it lacks clarity on whether the new bill contains provisions for free or complete treatment of patients, a longstanding concern for HIV-affected groups.

The bill only said state governments would provide HIV treatment “as far as possible” — leaving much room for interpretation — and patient groups have been demanding that this be changed.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Devanik Saha is a Gender and Development student at the University of Sussex.

 

By Devanik Saha 

The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend.

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Entertainment

‘Skyscraper’ Review: A lowbrow, watchable thriller

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Dwayne Johnson Skyscraper

New Delhi, July 20: Film: “Skyscraper”; Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber and Hannah Quinlivan;

Rating: ** (2 stars out of 5)

Despite being visually exciting, suspenseful and entertaining, “Skyscraper” is a lowbrow, one-dimensional, fun B-grade action thriller that is absolutely worth a watch.

The premise is simple and the plot is predictably straight laced. Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), an ex-military operative who has lost his leg in an explosion, now owns a security company that has been appointed to service ‘The Pearl’, the tallest building in the world, built by the Asian Financier Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han).

Fit with the latest security measures, the building seems insurmountable, till a group of mercenaries led by Kores Botha (Roland Moller) try to sabotage the building by burning it down because of their differences with Zhao Long Ji.

Sawyer’s stakes in saving the building are doubled as his wife Sarah and two children; Georgia and Henry, are stranded in the blazing skyscraper. How he rescues his family and Zhao and saves the building from being completely destroyed, forms the crux of the film.

The film is serious at times with by-the-numbers, over-the-top set action pieces and a few little twists here and there that defy expectations. The audience may find the set pieces to be incredibly entertaining, but in actuality, they don’t particularly mesh with the narrative. But then, as an action film it delivers the goods.

Overall, the film is Dwayne’s canvas. He entices the audience with his jaw-dropping stunts especially when he is dangling outside the building with nothing but a rope and wrapped prosthetic leg keeping him alive, the notion of “suspension of disbelief” only goes so far to save it.

He and Neve Campbell, who plays his wife Sarah, have surprisingly solid chemistry and together they as a couple make the telling of the film relatable. The kids are there to tug you on the emotional note, which definitely seems forced.

Overall, the film delivers on pretty much everything it promises and even adds a layer of emotion when looking at the family dynamics.

In fact, it even tries to reach the levels that the original “Die Hard” did, but then the ridiculous dialogue at the end – “You nearly need a shower” belittles Sawyer’s endeavour and takes away from the seriousness of the events one witnessed.

IANS

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Startups News

Google ‘Launchpad Accelerator’ India chapter to nurture desi startups

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New Delhi, July 10: In a bid to nurture Indian startups working in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Google on Tuesday announced to open the India chapter of its global “Launchpad Accelerator” mentorship programme.

The three-month “Launchpad Accelerator” India programme has been designed to grow the AI/ML ecosystem by helping desi startups build scalable solutions for the country’s unique problems.

The programme, based out of Bengaluru, will provide a cohort of 8-10 Indian startups mentorship and support from the best of Google in AI/ML, Cloud, UX, Android, web, product strategy and marketing, along with up to $100K of Google Cloud credits, the company said in a statement.

“India has the appetite to build entrepreneurs of the future and we are proud to announce a focused programme for the next wave of Indian entrepreneurs, who are using new technologies to solve the country’s needs,” said Roy Glasberg, Global Launchpad Founder.

Over the years, Google has worked with some incredible startups across India who are using advanced technologies such as AI/ML to tackle everything from agri-tech to language web, healthcare and transportation.

“With the dedicated India-only Launchpad Accelerator programme, we will be able to build a bridge between startups and the industry ecosystem and support them to drive innovation in the India market,” Glasberg added.

Applications for the first class is open till July 31 and the first class will start in September 2018.

In an effort to mentor emerging start-ups, Google India hosted a four-day boot camp for the first 10 Indian startups as part of its ‘Solve for India’ programme.

The India-focused accelerator programme is building on Google’s “Solve for India” roadshow from last year.

Ten Indian startups were shortlisted from across India which underwent four days in one-on-one consults with experts from Google and mentors from the industry to solve critical product and growth challenges.

“We shortlisted 10 startups from 160 home-grown start-ups by travelling across 15 cities in India, and are now ready to scale this pilot as a dedicated programme for India,” Karthik Padmanabhan, Developer Relations Lead, Google India, said at that time.

The participants were the founders of startups including Nebulaa, Slang Labs, PregBuddy, LegalDesk, PaySack, Vokal, FarMart, Meesho, Pratilipi and M-Indicator.

“Launchpad” regional accelerators are tailored specifically to their local markets, helping startups build great products, Google said.

IANS

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Fuel prices hiked for fifth consecutive day

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New Delhi July 9: Petrol and diesel prices on Monday hiked for the fifth consecutive day, according to the Indian Oil Corporation data.

Petrol is being sold in Delhi at Rs.76.36 per litre, as against Rs.76.13 on Sunday, while diesel is being sold at Rs.68.07 per litre, as against Rs. 67.86 on the previous day.

While in Mumbai, petrol prices increased from Rs. 83.52 on Sunday, to Rs. 83.75 per litre on Monday, and diesel prices from Rs.72 to Rs. 72.23 per litre.

Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last month, agreed to jointly increase oil production, which was estimated to be about one million barrels a day.

The deal, which came after days of negotiation, was reportedly aimed at easing fears of a global supply crunch.

WeForNews 

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