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January 22, 2007


Mrs. Salina Mostary

HIV-AIDS and Bangladesh

Global, HIV/AIDS epidemic constitutes one of the most burning threats known to mankind. The disease was discovered in 1981 and the causative agent was identified in 1983. More than 30 million have died. Roughly 14 million children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS. By 2010 it is estimated that approximately 100 million people will have been infected and that there will be 25 million AIDS orphans worldwide. By 2006 an estimated 39.5 million (34.1- 47.1 million) people were living with HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the region hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic; more than two-thirds of all people with HIV/AIDS are in this region.

The impact of AIDS in Asia is amazing. The UNAIDS estimated 8.6 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Asia in 2006. But some AIDS researchers estimate about ten to twelve million Asians infected with the HIV virus, more than the total number of persons elsewhere in the entire industrialized world. Some Asian countries suffer from low per capita incomes, dramatic inequities in income distribution, and poor healthcare infrastructure, making it difficult or impossible to provide high quality medical care to those who need it.

HIV is spread through contact with infected body fluids such as blood and semen. Infected people may harbor the virus within their bodies for several years or even longer before developing symptoms of AIDS. Though symptomless, they can still infect others. Worldwide, most HIV transmission occurs during sexual relations between heterosexual partners. Transmission among homosexuality and drug addicts are others significant route of transmission in many countries.

Bangladesh is a Muslim conservative country, but its culture is different than other Muslim country. It is not Fundamentalism country. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world with 144,319,628 (July 2005 est.) populations. Most people live in the rural areas. The country is ethnically homogenous, except for a small tribal population of about 1.2 million. The religion of almost 90 per cent of the population is Islam, and the majority speaks Bangla.

As mentioned by AIDS researcher Mohammad Khairul Alam, “Since the join and traditional familitical system playing a vital role to prevent HIV/AIDS without our concern in Bangladesh, this disease is not turning into an epidemic in a poor and illiterate country like us. Our religious belief, respect to other people’s thought, politeness as a nation and restricted social system etc. and the education which we get from our families, are protecting us from many unsocial activities and bad jobs. But in these days, our social values and the social structure are facing a great threat following the western cultures. Familitical ties are breaking; pre-marital relation and unsocial activities are increasing day by day. That is why to protect the traditional social system and to make aware the people – we have to be alert.”

By the 5th surveillance report, this traditional social norm has started to change. It is clear that Bangladesh’s conservative society is in denial. The HIV/AIDS was first case in Bangladesh in 1989. A total of 363 were reported to have been confirmed HIV positive until December 2003, of whom 57 have developed AIDS, out of which 30 persons have already been died. According to data from UNAIDS/WHO there are approximately 13,000 estimated persons are living with HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh which are confirmed by the 5th National Surveillance Team and Overall HIV prevalence rates among population groups most vulnerable to HIV infection is about 1% ( Injection Drug User, Commercial Sex Workers and their client etc.) . The prevalence is alarmingly increasing day by day in risky group of people due to ignorance, poverty, lack of sexual education and awareness, non-availability of diagnostic tools, equipment and medical support.

A national NGO in Bangladesh- ‘Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation’ identified four major approaches in a groundbreaking study on spread out HIV in Bangladesh. This study undertook by comparing of social-economic norm, family pattern, and economic dependency, cause of mounting sex industries, gender discrimination status & global analysis fact. There are four factors that appear to play a crucial role in HIV transmission in Bangladesh: Injection/ intravenous drug use (By sharing needle), female sex work (Due to lack of safe sex knowledge), gender discrimination (which indirectly force females commercial or non-commercial sex), Same sex/ homosexually/ Hijara (Due to lack of HIV/AIDS information, because they act invisible in this society). Poverty & illiteracy fueled it proportionally.

The epidemic in some Asian countries is mostly spreading through heterosexual contact. On a regional basis, infected men probably outnumber infected women by a factor of 3 to 1 or more, since commercial sex clients, injecting drug users and men having sex with men have contributed most strongly to the rapid initial growth of the epidemic. This male and female ratio is expected to drop as the epidemic spreads into the general population through spread of HIV/AIDS from clients of sex workers to their regular partners and spouses. Lack of knowledge may be creating most problems for Bangladesh of HIV/AIDS epidemic in future. While knowledge of HIV is nearly universal among sex workers and their clients, it is extremely low among the general population.

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