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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) affects 40.3 million people worldwide [ (UNAIDS) & (WHO) 2005 ]. Sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 25.8 million carriers, has the greatest burden of disease (64%) [ (UNAIDS) & (WHO) 2005 ].
The prevalence is estimated at 5–15% in most other Sub-Saharan countries Asia has an estimated prevalence in the region of 8.3 million, with 2.5 million being in India, giving an Indian adult HIV prevalence of 0.36% ( NACO; MOHFW, 2007 ).
Research with rural youth in Maharashtra suggests that HIV knowledge is low. For example, in a study, rural Maharashtrian girls and women aged 15 to 24 years old, only 49% indicated that they were aware of AIDS and only 60% reported that AIDS could be avoided.
India-US collaboration to prevent adolescent HIV infection : the feasibility of a family-based HIV-prevention intervention for rural Indian youth
Asha Banu Soletti 1* , Vincent Guilamo-Ramos 2* , Denise Burnette 2* , Shilpi Sharma 1* and Alida Bouris 3* 1 School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
2 Columbia University School of Social Work, New York, NY, USA
3 School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, USA
Sexual behavior remains the leading cause of HIV infection in India, and complex factors underlie rural youth's vulnerability to HIV.
In Maharashtra, many rural young men migrate to cities, particularly Mumbai, in search of economic opportunities. While they are in urban areas, young men may have sexual relationships with women, including sex workers.
Some young women enter early marriages or commercial sex work, and gender inequality creates power differences that create formidable barriers to consistent condom use.
Among young people aged 15 to 24 years, the number of women with HIV/AIDS is estimated to be almost twice that of young men. Taken together, these factors suggest that rural adolescents are a vulnerable group of young people.
Adolescents though “invisible”, do not exist in isolation.
Their capacities and opportunities dramatically differ based on age, gender, schooling, economic and family background, marital status, area of residence etc etc..
School going girls in age 14-17 yrs are mostly unmarried and less likely to have sexual exposure as compared to out of school girls of the same age, married or unmarried! And we have around 25% girls in this age group who do not go to school. Premarital sex, school drop out and unwanted pregnancy are interrelated.
Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare and the US Secretary of Health and Human Services signed a bilateral agreement in 2006 to collaborate on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS in India.
The overall goal of the bilateral agreement is to "promote and develop cooperation in the fields of HIV/AIDS and STI prevention, research, treatment and care, infrastructure development, training, and capacity-building on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit”.
The bilateral agreement also identifies a number of key areas for cooperation between India and the US, including "developing innovative intervention strategies for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS”.
Although male adolescents report higher rates of sexual activity than females, female adolescents are also vulnerable to HIV.
A complex combination of factors related to increased biological susceptibility, low levels of education, poverty and gender inequality heighten vulnerability for many females. Many young women do not complete secondary school.