By Rabindra Rooplall Jr
Research demonstrates that there is a relationship between domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. Some authors view domestic violence as a cause for the spread of HIV, while others see the spread of HIV as a cause of domestic violence.
However, most literature focuses on the former, where the emotional consequences of domestic violence, such as depression and low self esteem, can leave the survivor to exhibit high risk HIV behaviour, including injected drug use, the inability to negotiate condom use, and prostitution.
Nevertheless much disagreement exists on violence as a barrier to the disclosure of HIV infection. From the perspective of public health, the disclosure of someone’s condition of health is important for the control and reduction of HIV transmission. On the other hand from the perspective of the HIV-infected individual, there are a number of newly recognized barriers preventing the condition of health disclosure to their friends, family, and most importantly their sexual partners.
Reports note that the benefits of sharing HIV test results with a partner need to be balanced against the potential risks that an individual may face if he or she discloses; this includes threats of domestic abuse.
Notwithstanding that, for women the effects of AIDS go beyond the severe suffering and death of an infected person. It is likely that women have to carry the economic responsibilities, while at the same time, care for their husband and sick children, even while being infected themselves.
Although, women of all strata of society may be affected, poor women have to carry the heaviest burden.
And for younger women, the latest United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report has called for strengthening of measures to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide by focusing on youth, especially young women.
Since adolescent girls and young women make up more than 60 per cent of all people worldwide in the 15-24 year age group who are currently affected by HIV.
The figures for 2009 show that 2,500 young people do in fact get infected with HIV every day. Of these, approximately two million adolescents between the age of 10-19 years and 5 million young people between the ages of 15-24 years are currently living daily with HIV.
Even with the newest data showing progress in the treatment of the disease the global health benchmarks for HIV/AIDS may still not reach their goal. Increased regional legislative policies that support protective education and programmes are essential and can save lives.
“The 2010 target – a 25 per cent reduction – is unlikely to be met,” says the new June report as it outlines challenges and improvements in the fight to stop the increase of global HIV.
“The young women and men living with HIV today are the most visible evidence of the world’s failure to keep its promise to prevent HIV infection among young people and to empower them to protect themselves and live healthy – AIDS-free lives”.
According to a recent study, one of the first to show a firm link between violence and HIV, women who are beaten or dominated by their partners are much more likely to become infected by HIV than women who live in non-violent households
Gender-based violence is commonplace in all regions. As a result, activists over the last few decades have turned to the courts and legal system to address it.
Due to their advocacy in various countries, trials and convictions for rapists have become more common, domestic violence has been criminalized, health professionals have been obligated to report violence and the police have begun to treat it as a crime. Many countries now have laws that recognize the rights of women who have been trafficked. In a few countries, marital rape has also been recognized as a crime.
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