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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This disease remains one of the leading causes of death in every country. HIV/AIDS compels governments to offer adequate support to their citizens in an attempt to meet their health needs. Consequently, nations have to grapple with various developmental, social, and economic growth challenges associated with this disease. This paper gives a detailed analysis of HIV/AIDS in India and the major strategies implemented to deal with it.
Overview of HIV/AIDS
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 36 million individuals affected by HIV/AIDS across the globe (Goswami et al., 2014). In terms of incidence, around 1.8 million new HIV infections are recorded annually. The condition also affects over 2.1 million children globally (Lepine et al., 2016). Additionally, millions of citizens in every corner of the world died due to this disease. According to the chapter HIV/AIDS and Antiretroviral Therapy, these staggering statistics show that HIV/AIDS is a major challenge that should be addressed by societies using evidence-based approaches (as cited in Oliver, 2004). Different countries such as India have managed to implement powerful initiatives to tackle the challenges associated with this epidemic.
Case Study: India
India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) has been on the frontline to execute appropriate measures to deal with HIV infection. The prevalence rate of the condition stood at 0.27 in 2014 (Lepine et al., 2016). The rate had dropped from 0.41 within the past decade. Currently, the number of patients suffering from HIV/AIDS in the country is around 2.5 million (Lepine et al., 2016). Operating within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, NACO collects timely data using powerful surveillance systems. The agency publishes annual reports on the disease. Some of the evidence-based strategies implemented to deal with HIV/AIDS include continuous monitoring, empowerment of at-risk populations and groups, and promotion of powerful interventions.
In 2010, the Indian government identified AIDS as a development health concern that required combined strategies. Consequently, NACO implemented a powerful initiative aimed at reducing the number of new infections. Presently, the agency collaborates with different departments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to implement powerful programs for preventing the condition. Such partnerships have resulted in inappropriate models for supporting and treating HIV/AIDS patients.
In 2009, the government came up with a new policy known as National HIV and AIDS Policy and the World of Work (NHAPWK) to deal with any form of discrimination against HIV patients in the workplace. Different enterprises in the informal and formal sectors have been guided to implement powerful policies that can support the needs of patients with HIV/AIDS. NACO has gone further to support powerful initiatives to reduce the level of HIV transmission through sexual intercourse. This decision has been informed by the fact that over 80 percent of all new infections are as a result of sexual intercourse in India (Lepine et al., 2016). The first initiative has been to encourage people to embrace the use of condoms. Behavioral interventions are also used to discourage people from engaging in commercial sex. Indians are also empowered to have only one sexual partner.
The use of antiretroviral therapy has led to positive gains in the fight against the condition (Tanwar, Bewari, Rao, & Seguy, 2016). This effective method continued to support the needs of more HIV/AIDS patients. The strategy has empowered different patients to deal with various opportunistic diseases (“Financing issues,” 2005). Consequently, the life expectancy of HIV/AIDS patients in the country has increased significantly. However, there is a need to implement powerful models to meet the needs of persons in resource-poor populations or settings.
Anthropologists and HIV Stigma
HIV/AIDS face stigma in their respective societies, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Any form of stigma makes it impossible for affected individuals to share their pain, seek adequate medical support, and empower one another. Stigmatized persons also find it hard to achieve their potential in life (Manian, 2018). Fortunately, anthropologists have been keen to present evidence-based concepts that can guide societies to resolve the predicament of HIV stigma in India (as cited in Oliver, 2004). To begin with, many people used to believe that individuals infected with HIV were promiscuous. However, anthropologists have managed to offer meaningful insights that encourage members of the public to acknowledge that moral persons can be affected by the disease. This effort explains why many patients are no longer blamed for the rate at which the epidemic continues to affect humankind (Panovska-Griffiths et al., 2014). This achievement has resulted in a situation whereby more people are aware of the implications of stigmatization.
For many years, some groups were discriminated against for their connection with the disease. Modern anthropologists have demystified the situation by explaining how specific groups or ethnicities are usually at risk of HIV due to the nature of their cultural behaviors or practices (Horton & Das, 2010). Issues to do with risky behaviors have also been linked to the spread of the condition by anthropologists. This achievement has empowered more people to appreciate the issues surrounding the condition, thereby reducing the level of stigmatization.
Anthropologists have also presented meaningful ideas to ensure that appropriate behavioral changes are embraced by local cultures (Cohen, 2004b). The idea has empowered more people to embrace the use of condoms. Some people belong to cultures that promote specific behaviors that predispose them to HIV (Bertozzi, Padian, & Martz, 2010). Using such insights, anthropologists have made it possible for more people to protect themselves from the virus.
Additionally, anthropologists have explained how (and why) both women and men are at risk of the condition. Different methods of infection have also been explained by these scholars (Vassall et al., 2014). Consequently, they encourage people to engage in the best practices, support those who are affected by HIV, and implement powerful initiatives to protect others from the disease (“Financing issues,” 2005). The role of anthologists has been expanded to cover how different persons can be infected by the virus. This knowledge has encouraged more people to support infected persons, interact with them, and promote the power of diversity. These achievements have, therefore, contributed a lot to the fight against HIV/AIDS in India.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Approach
The above discussion reveals that the problem of HIV/AIDS is being addressed using diverse strategies in India. On top of that, the role of anthropologists, NGOs, and the government has resulted in powerful models that support the health needs of many patients (Goswami et al., 2014). The current approach has supported the expectations of many citizens and reduced the number of new infections recorded every year. Additionally, anthropologists have conducted numerous researches and presented powerful insights that encourage different people to support HIV patients.
This approach has several strengths that explain why it continues to deliver meaningful results. To begin with, the approach is supported by different stakeholders and actors, thereby making it sustainable. This movie explains why the country has been on the right track in the fight against AIDS. The second strength is that the model is implemented in every region across the country. Individuals in rural and urban regions have benefited significantly from the strategy. This is the reason why the number of new infections has been reducing significantly in the country.
The approach has also resulted in reduced stigma. Infected persons are supported and empowered by their relatives, friends, and colleagues. Persons with the condition receive adequate support, drugs, ideas, and education to protect themselves from a wide range of opportunistic conditions such as tuberculosis (Moyer, 2015). On the other hand, the approach has several weaknesses that should be addressed in the future. For instance, anthropologists have not been sharing their findings with different beneficiaries and stakeholders. This gap explains why the problem of stigma still exists in the country (Celentano & Beyrer, 2008). Some anthropologists have also been observed to treat their professional fields differently. This gap explains why more people have not been informed about the achievements of these researchers. The level of anthropological advocacy is also quite low. These gaps explain why the problem of stigma is yet to be addressed fully in India.
New Researches to Deal with the Above Problem
Anthropologists conduct numerous studies to understand human behaviors, cultural attributes, practices, and suggest better strategies to deal with the problems affecting them. The predicament of HIV/AIDS poses numerous challenges that continue to affect the welfare of more HIV patients and at-risk populations. Some of these problems include a lack of welfare support and stigmatization (Cohen, 2004a). Although past efforts and initiatives have empowered many Indians to understand and resolve HIV stigma, new efforts are needed to come up with better efforts to achieve sustainable results.
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An anthropologist can design a new study to come up with an evidence-based approach to this problem. This research should focus on a powerful strategy through which members of the public can be guided to appreciate the importance of social change. The proposed change should, therefore, be based on anthropological concepts. This means that the study will be aimed at identifying new social practices, interactions, and support systems that can empower different individuals in every society to collaborate and deal with this epidemic (Moyer & Hardon, 2014). The study should also be expanded to tackle obstacles such as violence and racial or economic discrimination. The proposed anthropological study can also present meaningful insights to encourage more people to embrace better behaviors and norms that can minimize the rate of new HIV infections (Kumar, Suar, & Singh, 2017). The findings from the research can also be shared with health professionals to minimize every challenge associated with HIV. Consequently, the country will record positive gains and reduce the impacts of this disease.
India’s efforts and campaigns to deal with HIV/AIDS have been successful. NACO has been partnering with different stakeholders to support HIV patients, reduce infections, and implement powerful preventative measures. Anthropologists should use their competencies to develop powerful models that can encourage people to appreciate the facts of HIV and tackle the problem of stigmatization. Collaborative efforts between anthropologists and medical professionals can deliver meaningful concepts to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
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