The HIV stands for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus and AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndromes. So, HIV is a cause virus and AIDS is a state or disorder or complex of symptoms or a state of disease. The HIV/AIDS a virus induced pandemic is one of the most serious health concerns in the world today, because of its high case fatality rate and lack of a curative treatment or vaccine.
What is the situation of HIV/AIDS in Nepal? AIDS was first identified in Nepal in 1988. Since then, AIDS cases have been steadily increasing; as of October 2001 cumulative HIV/AIDS cases had reached 1,564. This figure is based on the number of people who have tested their blood at the health centers. Because of very limited number of persons have been tested for HIV/AIDS it is likely that this figure could be much higher. For example, according to the UNAIDS and WHO estimates there may be about 34000 HIV positive persons in the kingdom. (UNAIDS, 2001) Despite relatively low numbers of identified AIDS cases in Nepal, experts are concerned about the implied impact of HIV/AIDS in Nepal because of
- Relatively high illiteracy, which prevents people from taking precautionary measures to avoid getting AIDS.
- Open border with India, which has the largest number of AIDS cases in the world.
- Presence of commercial sex workers who are the major source of AIDS transmission in Nepal.
- Increasing use of intravenous drugs.
- Seasonal migration of Nepalese to India for seasonal work resulting in a STD and AIDS infection.
What researches about HIV/AIDS suggest? National level data on the Knowledge of AIDS was collected in 1996NFHS and 2001NDHS. These data suggest that among women of reproductive age around 50 percent have heard of AIDS. This figure is nearly double the figure obtained in 1996. Indicating that during a period of 5 years there has been an increase of 25 percentage points in the knowledge of AIDS among ever married women of reproductive age. Information on knowledge of AIDS was collected for males in 2001NDHS only. This survey indicates that nearly 72 percent of ever married males 15-59 have heard of AIDS.
While only 38 percent of women believe that there is a way to avoid AIDS this figure is 67 percent among ever married Nepalese males aged 15-59.
Further queried about the ways of avoiding AIDS common responses among women were
a) Use of condom b) Avoiding multiple sex partners and void sex with persons who have multiple sex partners. Among the males besides these common responses a) avoiding sex with prostitute
Limiting sex partners were common responses.
Since use of condom is one the ways of avoiding getting AIDS women and men were also asked whether they were aware of the source of condom. Nearly 70 percent of women were aware of the source of condoms while only 34 percent said that they could get a condom from that source if they wanted to. This indicates that there is still some taboo in getting condom for women. Among men proportion knowing a source of condom was 84 percent.
Although these figures show some improvement over the years, however, if the spread of HIV/AIDS is to be checked, a multi-pronged IEC campaign needs to be carried out to inform people as well the community as to what it is, how it is transmitted and what precautionary measures can be taken to avoid HIV/AIDS.
Updates: Nepal (Source: NCASC)