Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Country of the week: India

Hey DMers! Thanks to everyone who came out for our two 50 Days events at BU Central and Pour House. Dance Marathon is coming up so quickly, and we are really excited for the number of dancers we have signed up so far!

To continue our exploration of AIDS around the world, we'll talk a little about the epidemic in Asia. India and China are the future of the AIDS problem. The Indian government has neither acknowledged nor provided resources for the growing number of infections, and hospitals often provide counseling but no medicine.

In India, infection of only 5 percent of the population translates to 50 million people. HIV positive women in India are deemed worthless and are kicked out of their homes. The infection, though often transmitted by a man, is always blamed on women. Social and cultural barriers to prevention in the country include the importance of having children to verify a marriage. Often, women in India will knowingly contract HIV to get pregnant rather than leaving their marriage.

One of our charities, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, has provided more than 800,000 women in India with critical prevention of mother-to-child transmission services. The Foundation continues to provide critical prevention services, along with counseling for HIV-positive and HIV-negative women in India.

Source: A Closer Walk, 2002.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Countdown to DM: Ukraine

Hey, DMers! Since we are getting SO CLOSE to Dance Marathon (our 50 Days event is next week!), I thought I'd start featuring a new country every week to show what the AIDS epidemic looks like around the world (our DM theme this year!).

When many people think of AIDS, they think of Africa. But today, the epidemic is spreading fastest in post-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe. For example, Ukraine is currently experiencing an epidemic among intravenous drug users in the 20 to 39 age range.

In Ukraine, a bad economy has created a young generation of people without hope for the future. They turn to drugs, especially liquid heroin, for distraction. The liquid heroin is cheap, and users share needles to feel part of a "brotherhood." The Ukrainians are unprepared for such an epidemic. The government is poor and has no experience with something like HIV and AIDS.

The infection rate of intravenous drug users in Russia and China was 70 percent in 2002.

However, programs have sprouted up encouraging the use of clean needles and condoms. These programs also offer counseling, which is crucial in a culture where no one talks about AIDS.

Source: A Closer Walk, 2002.