In a shocking revelation, the latest National Family Health Survey-4 said that only 44.6 percent women in Assam are aware of safe sex, HIV- AIDS and other related issues.
Till December 31, 2014, a total of 9,991 HIV-positive cases were detected in Assam, of which 3,445 were women. Despite that Assam is categorized as a low HIV-prevalence state with the number of new HIV infection cases increasing annually at a rate of 2.5 percent. The estimated adult HIV-prevalence rate in the state is 0.6 percent against the national prevalence of 0.26percent. The rate is, however, higher than the 0.04 percent recorded in 2007.
AIDS experts believe that gender roles and the taboo surrounding contraceptive methods are the major factors. “What is made available is for the males. Gender role has a role to play in Assam’s low awareness among women about the use of condoms and its effect on the prevention of HIV,” said SI Ahmed, chairman of the Assam Prevention Society, adding, “Thus, it is important that awareness be made inclusive.”
Ahmed is first medical practitioners in Assam to do an enhanced study on the AIDS scenario in the region. However, in a surprising note, the status of other Northeastern states such as Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim are quite better. In Manipur, around 79 percent women are aware of safe sex.