Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Knowledge on AIDS among Female Adolescents in Bangladesh: Evidence from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey Data

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Knowledge on AIDS among Female Adolescents in Bangladesh: Evidence from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey Data

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has increasingly become a major public-health concern in many developing countries. It is estimated that globally about 34.3 million people are currently infected with HIV. Of these, about 5.6 million are from South and Southeast Asia, with most infections occurring in India. After a slow start in the mid-1980s, India has now about 3.7 million people infected with HIV, with an infection rate of 0.7% (1). The infection rates in Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar are as high as 2-4% of their adult population.

Bangladesh, unlike its neighbours, still have low infection rates, with an HIV prevalence of 0.02% in adult population at the end of 1999 (1). The third round of the sentinel surveillance, conducted in Bangladesh during 2000-2001, showed an HIV prevalence of less than 1% among the high-risk groups, such as injecting drug users (IDUs), female sex workers, men having sex with men, and patients with sexually-transmitted infection (STI) (2). The prevalence of HIV among IDUs ranges from 0% to 3.9% in different parts of the country. In addition, the pattern of behaviours that favours the spread of HIV infection is well-established in the Bangladesh society. For example, a substantial proportion of youth has multiple sex partners; drug users share and re-use their needles; and poor condom use, unscreened blood transfusion, and increasing high-risk sexual behaviours are common (3). Evidence suggests that men who have sex with men are highly vulnerable to HIV/STIs, especially those who sell sex (4). Furthermore, Bangladesh has many epidemiological and social factors that could produce a devastating epidemic. These are significant cross-border trade and movements of population, including the high-risk groups to and from the neighbouring countries India and Myanmar, large commercial sex industry with poor condom use, and high rates of STIs (5). These, coupled with limited opportunities of user-friendly reproductive health services, place Bangladesh in a position where HIV infections could spread rapidly if appropriate actions are not taken ur gently.

There is evidence to suggest that women are more vulnerable than men with women becoming infected at younger age than men (6). The proportion of adults living with HIV/AIDS who are women has been steadily increasing: the rate of infection was 41% in 1997 and 47% in 2000. In addition, infection in women is skewed disproportionately toward young women and girls. Since most HIV-infected young women become ill during their most productive ages, the social and economic impacts of HIV/AIDS are devastating in resource-poor settings. Thus, the Plan of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) urges the government and non-government organizations to design appropriate programmes to meet special health needs of adolescents (7).

Adolescence, designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as age-range of 10-19 years (8), is a vulnerable period when young adults are exposed to new experiences relating to sexuality and reproduction (9). For many reasons, female adolescents are more vulnerable than any others and are biologically more susceptible to some STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, that could facilitate the transmission of HIV (10). In addition, early age-at-marriage and ignorance about sexuality and reproduction stimulate the risk of early pregnancy among female adolescents in Bangladesh. The source of information and advice on contraception are rarely available or accessible to the adolescents. Although sociocultural conditions are changing slowly, the mainstream attitude toward sexuality is still conservative in Bangladesh. Indeed, there are strong cultural prejudices and taboos against the discussion about sexuality in public. In addition, susceptibility of female adolescents to HIV infections is rooted in the traditional gender discrimination that denies them the power to protect their health. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.