16 December 2011

Impact of HIV/AIDS on Women and Girls in Asia

I wrote this post for the PSI Healthy Lives Blog.

A comprehensive study on the socio-economic impact of HIV at the household level in Asia was carried out by UNDP. The findings found that the "the region has been the inadequate efforts to mitigate the social and economic impact of the epidemic on people living with HIV, and their households." Most notable of the findings were the impact that HIV had on women and girls. The study found:

  • Female-headed (non-widowed) HIV-affected households (HIV-HHs) in Cambodia and Indonesia were less likely to own their home than maleheaded (non-widowed) HIV-HHs. They were also less likely to own a motor-vehicle, and in Indonesia, less likely to own a non-motor vehicle.
  • Female-headed HIV-HHs in Indonesia were more likely to be in debt than male-headed HIV-HHs.
  • The majority of female widows in HIV-HHs in Indonesia and Viet Nam reported being denied a share in their deceased husband’s property and assets. In India, the overwhelming majority (79%) of widows living with HIV were denied such rights.
  • Across the region, girls in HIV-HHs were the least likely to be attending school, and the most likely to have dropped-out.
  • In India, female PLHIV were more likely than male PLHIV to report having been sick, but not having sought care. They were also more likely than males to state the reason for not having sought care was due to financial reasons.
  • Female PLHIV in Cambodia and Viet Nam were more likely to report having low self-esteem and more likely to have had suicidal thoughts than male PLHIV.
  • In most countries, female PLHIV were more likely to have immediately disclosed their status to their spouse or intimate partner than male PLHIV. However, this may be partially reflective of the high male to female intimate partner transmission rate.
  • Responses from NA-HHs in China and India showed high levels of discriminatory attitudes towards PLHIV and their families. In India, more women held discriminatory attitudes than males, while the reverse was true in China.
  • In general, female PLHIV were more likely than male PLHIV to have been discriminated against: in Viet Nam they were more likely to have reported discrimination in health facilities and rights abuses; in Indonesia and Viet Nam they were more likely to have reported social isolation and neglect in their communities; in Cambodia female PLHIV were more likely to have reported verbal abuse, physical harassment and physical abuse.
  • Women in Viet Nam had relatively low levels of knowledge about mother-to-child transmission of HIV and in Indonesia and Viet Nam, low levels of prevention of mother-to-child transmission. In Indonesia, less than two-thirds of pregnant HIV-positive women told their health provider of their status.
  • In Cambodia, India and Indonesia, women were less likely to have knowledge of condoms for HIV prevention.

The authors of the study are careful to point out that the results are not as robust as they would like and follow up studies are necessary. To read the full report here and the additional report on women and girls here.