Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bangladeshi women fall victim to HIV as husbands hide infection - Gulf Times

More and more Bangladeshi women are becoming HIV-positive or even infected with Aids by their partners or husbands who return from work abroad and have unsafe sex with them.
While these men hide their HIV-positive status from their women partners, this has increased the incidence of HIV vulnerability among Bangladesh’s population,
experts said.
A recent visit to the state-run 14-bed Aids ward at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Dhaka, found all the beds of the ward occupied. A year ago, the average rate of occupancy at this ward was four or
five patients.
Nurun Nahar (not her real name), mother of six, is now undergoing treatment along with her husband Shahinur Islam (not his real name). Islam came back from Jeddah a year back and tested HIV-positive. Both of them were found to be HIV patients last August.
“I was suffering from diarrhoea and fever during Ramadan and went from hospital to hospital for treatment at my home district Comilla,” Islam said, adding: “In a pathological test, doctors found me HIV-positive and immediately asked me to bring all my children and wife to test. Thanks to Allah, my sons and daughters are safe but my wife tested HIV-positive.”
Nahar said: “My husband did not tell me about his disease after his return from Jeddah. I didn’t know anything about this disease before … We are waiting for our
last day.”
“If I had known about the disease, I would have taken appropriate precaution. No one has told me about it. But here in the hospital, I heard from a doctor that health professionals or village leaders are supposed to tell people about the disease,” she added.
Subarna Saha, 24, and her five-year-old daughter were found waiting for a test in the hospital. She came with her husband Shidharth Banik, who returned from Malaysia after working there for 13 years as a construction
She got married to Banik who had been found HIV-positive seven years back and, obviously, didn’t disclose it to his would-be wife.
“It was an arranged marriage,” said Saha who was preparing her husband’s bed in the Aids ward.
Doctors of the hospital said that most of the Aids patients they had admitted were suffering from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, which made their suffering worse.
About 62% children of HIV parents were found positive while 75% of HIV male patients were those who have returned from abroad, said a doctor.
HIV/Aids Health Profile of Bangladesh, prepared by United States Agency International Development in 2010, reported that with less than 0.1% of the population estimated to be HIV positive, Bangladesh is a low-prevalence country.
The country faces a concentrated epidemic and its very low HIV prevalence rate is partly due to prevention efforts focusing on sex workers and drug users, the report said.
A doctor of the hospital, seeking anonymity, said: “People who have tested HIV-positive should disclose their status to their families so that their spouses can get proper treatment and help to stop further infection.”
Dr M Selimuzzaman, who has been working on HIV/Aids, said: “People should be taught about infectious diseases, especially Aids and HIV, before they go abroad for work.”
Overall, 2,088 cases of HIV and Aids have been confirmed and reported against 1,745 cases in 2009, 1,495 in 2008 and 1,207 in 2007. The number of undetected cases is believed to be much greater.

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