posted on Feb, 15 2007 @ 03:35 AM
The scenario of AIDS and Bangladesh
Mohammad Khairul Alam
Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation
24/3 M. C. Roy Lane
Although Bangladesh continues to be a low prevalence area, it is surrounded by high prevalence countries (High prevalence of HIV/AIDS in neighboring
India). We however must not adopt a complacent attitude in respect as our country has all the determinants for an explosive outbreak of HIV/AIDS
epidemic. Curses of poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, proximity of Bangladesh to the so-called 'Golden Triangle' & high prevalence of STDs, make our
country seriously vulnerable. Drug use increases the HIV risk and can start very early-for example, glue-sniffing by youngsters living or working on
the streets. The danger of becoming infected with HIV by sharing injecting equipment is well known, and real. Unemployment, slum housing, family
fragility, frequent cross-border movement of people, lack of information, unsafe blood transfusion, physical and sexual abuse-that create a "risk
environment" of violence for many young people in the region. In addition increased number of migrant workers, unsafe practice in health service,
unsafe sex practice etc. movement of population, less use of condom, polygamy, homosexuality, extra-marital relations, further increases the
In Bangladesh, the intravenous drug users (IDU) are the most potential carriers of HIV/AIDS among the vulnerable groups in the country. Bangladesh has
no official data on drug users. By the way, according to CARE estimates, there are more than 5,000 intravenous drug users and at least 18,000 heroin
users in the capital, Dhaka, alone. The fourth round of national HIV and behavioral surveillance report showed that the HIV infection rate among the
injection drug users (IDUs) is now 4 per cent, up from 2.5 per cent previously which is just short of the 5 per cent mark of a concentrated epidemic.
About 93.4 per cent IDUs in central Bangladesh admitted that they share same syringe while taking drugs. Even they use the same syringe several times
for taking drug.
Although HIV rates are comparatively lower (one per cent) among the sex workers but Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates are still quite high
(20 per cent) among this group. On the other hand, brothel-based female sex workers in Bangladesh report the highest turnover of clients than anywhere
in Asia (an average of 18.8 clients per week). Certainly, adolescent girls’ prostitution is booming in Bangladesh. Adolescent girls engage or are
forced into prostitution for trafficking or socio-economic reasons. But in addition to sexual exploitation, they face all sorts of violence. Rainbow
Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation carried out a recent field investigation, the research confirmed that adolescents girls’ prostitution is widespread
in Bangladesh, although hidden at first sight from foreigners, especially in Dhaka city. Adolescent girls involved in prostitution are to be found in
residence homes converted into brothels or in hotels. The majority are aged 15-18.
Meanwhile, most of the people of country are unaware about the deadly disease. By a study of, Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation in mid-2006 at
Kamrangir Char, Lalbagh and Polashi in Dhaka city, surveyors interviewed 430 general population engaged in rickshaw-pulling, selling tea, cosmetics
and garments, and hawking goods door to door. They found almost all of the respondents were migrants from rural areas, most of whom were illiterate.
Among all respondents 26% claimed to have knowledge on HIV / AIDS and 74% did not have any knowledge. Some 40% of the unmarried respondents
maintaining consent sexual relations.
According to the National AIDS Committee and surveillance team members and experts, the rate is quite alarming as it remains one per cent less than
the highest five per cent HIV epidemic i