Women Empowerment to the Prevention of STDs/STI, HIV/AIDS

Women Empowerment to the Prevention of STDs/STI, HIV/AIDS

Worldwide, rates of sexually transmitted infections among young people are soaring: one-third of the 340 million new STIs each year occur in people under 25 years of age. Each year, more than one in every 20 adolescents contracts a curable STI. More than half of all new HIV infections occur in people between the ages of 15 to 24 years. The sexual health needs for adolescent girls are generally overlooked, stigma and vulnerability affects particular groups of men as well as women. Although men generally have more access to information on sexual issues than women, and more decision-making power regarding sexual behavior, access to information, and treatment for other infections which facilitate the transmission of HIV and onset of AIDS, including sexually transmitted infections, are limited because of weak public health services, health workers’ negative attitudes, and the high cost of treatment.

If the adolescents are informed and thought about their sexual and reproductive health, they might take the decisions about it independently. But the physiological, behavioral and social factors make adolescents more vulnerable than adults to STDs/STI. Seeing that girls have a large mucosal surface area exposed to infection and have not yet developed mature mucosal defence systems, the cells that line the opening of the cervix are particularly susceptible to chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV.

Social powerlessness, poverty and economic dependence contribute to the vulnerability of adolescent girls. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has been fuelled by gender inequality. Unequal power relations, sexual coercion and violence is a widespread phenomenon faced by women of all age-groups, and has an array of negative effects on female sexual, physical and mental health. HIV/AIDS infection reveals the disastrous effects of discrimination against women on human health, and on the socio-economic structure of society.

Usually, girls do not have the same educational and employment opportunities as boys, and they face family and societal forces for early marriage and childbearing. Early marriage and early childbearing are the norm in Bangladesh, although age at marriage is rising in all the countries mentioned. Finally, there is evidence that an increasing proportion of unmarried adolescents are sexually active.

Nowadays, age at marriage is increasing, and this raises its own issues and concerns. Sometimes Later marriage increases premarital sex. Sex outside marriage is normally considered immoral and adolescents who engage in it particularly girls are strongly condemned.

In many societies, people from groups associated with high incidences of HIV infection – including injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, and commercial sex workers are subjected to a culture of fear and punishment when their HIV status is suspected.

Source: Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation

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