50 Million Women in Asia at risk of Contracting HIV from Intimate Partners
According to the report, men who buy sex constitute the largest infected population group in
The agency estimates that more than 90 percent of the 1.7 million women living with HIV in
“HIV prevention programmes focused on the female partners of men with high-risk behaviours still have not found a place in national HIV plans and priorities in Asian countries” said Dr. Prasada Rao, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team Asia and the Pacific, speaking at the launch of the report.
The report points out that the strong patriarchal culture in Asian countries severely limits a woman’s ability to negotiate sex in intimate partner relationships. While society tolerates extramarital sex and multiple partners for men, women are generally expected to refrain from sex until marriage and remain monogamous afterwards.
“Discrimination and violence against women and girls, endemic to our social fabric, are both the cause and consequence of AIDS,” said Dr. Jean D’Cunha, UNIFEM Regional Programme Director for East and
Research from several Asian countries indicates that between 15% and 65% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence in intimate partner relationships, placing them at increased risk of HIV infection. According to studies in
The report also indicates that the female partners of migrant workers have been shown to be at increased risk of HIV infection when the latter return from working in countries with high HIV prevalence. A study in
To prevent HIV transmission among intimate partner relationships, the report outlines four key recommendations:
- HIV prevention interventions must be scaled-up for men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and clients of female sex workers and should emphasize the importance of protecting their regular female partners.
- Structural interventions should be initiated to address the needs of vulnerable women and their male sexual partners. This includes expanding reproductive health programmes to include services for male sexual health.
- HIV prevention interventions among mobile populations and migrants must be scaled-up and include components to protect intimate partners.
- Operational research must be conducted to obtain a better understanding of the dynamics of HIV transmission among intimate partners.
“The work that has been started around prevention of HIV transmission in intimate partner relationships is incredibly important because it means a new way of doing our work,” said Vince Crisostomo, Regional Coordinator for the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS. “The ultimate goal is the empowerment of women and it shows that the responsibility is on both sides.”