A significant rise in the incidents of HIV among women trafficked via India’s International borders is proving to be an important factor in spreading the deadly virus to its “lower-prevalence neighbours”, according to a study.
The study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has found that 38 per cent of girls and women trafficked to India and then repatriated were found to be HIV positive.
However, the infection rate exceeded to 60 per cent among girls, who are forced into prostitution prior to 15 years of age.
“The high rates of HIV documented in various reports support concerns that trafficking may be a significant factor in both maintaining the HIV epidemic in India and in spreading the epidemic to its lower-prevalence neighbours,” said Jay Silverman, Associate Professor of Society, Human Development and Health (HSPH), which carried out the study.
An estimated 150,000 women and girls are trafficked annually within and across South Asia, with majority destined for major Indian cities like Mumbai, said the study, which was published in the August issue of the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ (JAMA).
“The trafficked girls under 15 years of age were more likely to be held in brothels for a year or longer than older girls, and the risk of HIV infection increased by two per cent for every additional month of brothel detention,” he said.
To underline their findings, the research team reviewed the medical documentation and case records of 287 girls and women who had been trafficked from Nepal to India between the year 1997 and 2005.
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) officials refused to comment on the report, says PTI .