HIV AIDS is still a taboo topic in India. While medical science is doing a lot to empower those affected by the disease, there is still a long way to go. A research, conducted in the UK by Terence Higgins Trust, found that women get the least amount of HIV services available. The focus is mostly on gay men.

The report shows that 50% of the women with HIV believed that they had been detected late, so their chance to have an HIV-free life is short.

Public Health Expert that the charity interviewed “felt that overall, there had been a disproportionate focus on men who have sex with men (MSM) in the HIV response with one stakeholder suggesting that the sector had ‘taken its eye off the ball’ when it came to HIV and women,” reported Telegraph.

It notes that only a third of the total number of people who received treatment for HIV was women. The total number of women infected by HIV who also received treatment in 2016 were 28,479. An estimated 89,400 people are living with HIV in England.

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The report emphasized on the analysis that women who were diagnosed late “rated their quality of life as poor, were more likely to rate their quality of life as poor or acceptable, and were more likely to say that their quality of life had got worse since diagnosis”.

Close to 50% of the women the researchers had interviewed for this report had had a mental health diagnosis since their HIV diagnosis. A similar proportion were living below the poverty line.

“We must see gender equity in funding, data, services and research to ensure adequate support is available for any woman living with HIV who needs it,” said Jacqui Stevenson, a trustee of the Sophia Forum, which also worked on the research

“We hope this project will send a strong signal to researchers, service providers, decision-makers and the HIV sector as a whole, to support the urgent need to make sure women don’t stay invisible in HIV,” added Stevenson.

Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, said, “There have been incredible female activists who have stood up, and continue to fight for the rights of women living with HIV. But women have too often been the silent partner when it comes to HIV. This must change.”

“The issues raised in this report are familiar to me in many ways – time and again we have failed to prioritize and address women’s issues,” she added.

Picture credit- India Today Live

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