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Men more aware about HIV/AIDS, yet more affected




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, 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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Unhappy Naresh Agarwal joins BJP, says SP prefered Bollywood actress over me as RS candidate



Naresh Agarwal
Naresh Agarwal joins BJP (Photo-ANI)

The Samajwadi Party leader, Naresh Agarwal on Monday joined BJP in the presence of Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

While joining BJP, Naresh Agarwal who is currently the Rajya Sabha member of Samajwadi Party said, “I am joining the BJP as I think that until you are in National Party, you cannot do anything for the society. I am also impressed by PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and UP CM Yogi. I still respect Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav, but the current scenario in SP where it is doing a coalition with Congress and sometimes BSP is very sad.”

The leader joined BJP after the Samajwadi party nominated actor and politician Jaya Bachchan for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in April. The party had to choose between Naresh Agarwal and Jaya Bachchan as they don’t have enough legislators in the assembly to support their candidate.

Talking about Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha candidate, Jaya Bachchan he said, “My comparison was drawn with those working in films… I was rejected for those who dance in films, work in films. I found it not proper. Nobody found it proper.”

Agarwal became tv channels and newspaper’s headline for making controversial statements. In July 2017, he courted controversy in Rajya Sabha by associating Hindu Gods with alcohol, while speaking on the issue of mob violence related with cow protection. However, after his statement, he was made to apologise by BJP.


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India, Pakistan should decide to think of peace: Farooq Abdullah on ceasefire violations



Farooq Abdullah
National Conference party leader, Farooq Abdullah (File Photo)

Kashmir:  National Conference party leader Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday spoke about the situation on the India- Pakistan border in Kashmir. 

The leader speaking on the continous ceasefire violation said,”this will continue to happen.”

The leader urging both the countries to find a diplomatic solution said,”firing will continue to happen on both sides unless the two nations decide to think of peace.”

“The sooner they think about it, the sooner it will stop,” he added.

However this is not the first time when Abdullah has asked for diplomatic solutions, earlier the leader stated that war is not the solution of the Kashmir issue.


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Kabul seeks closure of Taliban’s Qatar office



Taliban office in Qatar
Taliban office in Qatar (Photo- The Newyork Times)

Doha, Feb 24: Kabul has started discussions with the Qatari government to close the Taliban office in Doha as it has had “no positive consequence in terms of facilitating the peace talks with the group in Afghanistan”, a senior government official has said.

“There is no need to keep the office open”, said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani, in an interview with Middle East newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat earlier this week.

“The aim behind opening (Taliban’s) Qatar office was to start official peace negotiations with the terror group from the address, but so far no official negotiation from the office has been started with government. Even a single step has not been taken forward in the peace process through this office,” Qadir Shah, a spokesman for Atmar’s office said.

“It had no benefit for us even after seven years… It is better to close it,” Atmar said.

He also said that Kabul has so far witnessed no sign of “sincere” cooperation from Islamabad in counter-terrorism efforts.

The Taliban had earlier reached out to the US with an offer for talks and urged people to pressurize Washington to bring an end to the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Taliban had said that they preferred to resolve the conflict that began in 2001 through peaceful dialogue and warned that the use of force alone would complicate the problem in Afghanistan.

The group had called on the “American people and the peace-loving Congressmen” to pressurize US leadership to end the occupation of the Asian country, a precondition that Taliban has always maintained to begin any negotiation.


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