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Working to Stop the Spread of AIDS/HIV Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Mohammad Ziaul Ahsan, Bangladesh Apr 27, 2003
Health   Opinions


Working to Stop the Spread of AIDS/HIV Despite well-documented and successful prevention efforts in few countries, HIV/AIDS continues to spread in Asia and the Pacific. No country is now immune to HIV/AIDS. In fact, this region has become a home of many people living with HIV/AIDS than any other besides sub-Saharan Africa. Almost one million people in Asia and the pacific have acquired HIV in 2002 bringing to an estimated 7.2 million the number of people now living with HIV, a 10% in increase since 2001.

By now, the disease has established itself across the entire region. Countries of the region showing low prevalence may come up with a larger number of people affected more than other countries in the region within a short period of time.

Male and female sex workers & their clients, injection drug users, are the first communities to be seriously affected by HIV/AIDS in Asia. The epidemic will then rapidly penetrate into the general population through clients of sex workers and the sexual partners of injection drug users.

The economic upheaval of the past two years has fueled the sex industry to flourish, increasing injection drug use, vast migration, illiteracy, socio-economic disparity, absence of accurate appropriate messages of prevention to all everywhere, and etc. are all important factors facilitating the spread of HIV.

Asia's vulnerability to the spread of HIV is clearly evident, as high-risk sexual behavior and sharing needle among injecting drug user's are rampant. Cultural taboos and stigma & discrimination that surround the disease and the sexual behavior and talking about sex in many Asian cultures make information exchange and negotiating safer sexual practices a significant challenge. Poverty, low levels of education also contribute to a lack of awareness about HIV prevention. Widespread unprotected sex has led many to get infection of STI and STI's are indicator of unsafe sex and more vulnerable to HIV infection than any other. Besides the STI's have three fold deep linkage with HIV, which lead STI's to get HIV fastly and quickly.

In these contexts, the government of Bangladesh has developed a policy on HIV prevention with a National AIDS Committee to monitor activities with support from the national technical committee of the National AIDS Committee Chaired by Major General SM Matiur Rahman, whose sincere and dedicated support has made the prevention efforts effective in many places specially in the Army, Police, BDR and other social sectors.

The total efforts of prevention of HIV/AIDS/STD of the GOB is monitored and coordinated by Mr. M. Fazlur Rahman, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, by whose committed and sincere devotion to the prevention need for HIV/AIDS the efforts of the government in the primary prevention of HIV/AIDS and STIs have become effective in Bangladesh and the country in spite of the rapid increase in the infection of HIV in the surrounding country like India, Thailand. Nepal and Myanmar is still in low prevalent stage.

Among the many NGOs in Bangladesh Organization for Social Development of Unemployed Youth (OSDUY) developed a true, accurate, appropriate and useful message book "AIDS-Okal Mrityu" for hand in hand distribution to all countries in the context that once knowing the modes of prevention, anybody of anywhere would resort to safe practice for his own safety from the diseases. This message book was approved by the National AIDS Committee, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and appreciated by the UNDP and United Nations agencies, and advised to transmit these messages all through the countries of the world which the OSDUY did through use of a website.

The government of Bangladesh in an appraisal meeting on 14/10/2001, evaluated the messages and re-approved printing & distribution of 50,000,000 books "AIDS-Okal Mrityu" for distribution.

The real truth of safety from HIV/AIDS is the dissemination of true, appropriate, and accurate messages of prevention, as with this knowledge, safe sexual practices will be widely used. In this context, OSDUY is focussing upon transmission of true and appropriate messages to all countries so that anywhere the messages are not unknown.

The OSDUY uses two tools for dissemination:

1. "AIDS-Okal Mrityu" (True messages)
2. 'Social Group' of five from among the community who serves the message along with peer support. The messages can convince that anyone should avoid contact of blood, saliva, body fluid of others in order to remain free of STI and from HIV/AIDS by safe practices in sexual acts and precautions in other cases.



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