Inter Press Service (04.11.12) - Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Nepal's 2011 census reported that among its 26.7 million
people, 2 million work abroad - many in neighboring India,
which is home to 2.5 million HIV-positive people and a hub for
sex workers recruited from Nepal.
Nepal's 2010 progress report for the UN Millennium Development
Goals predicts the nation will reach the target of lowering
the poverty rate 21 percent by 2015. The report also says
Nepal has succeeded in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. Yet in
western Nepal, where at least half the population lives below
the poverty line, the reality is different, especially for
women in villages like Rakam Kranali.
Family Health International's 2004 report "Women and HIV/AIDS
- Experiences and Consequences of Stigma and Discrimination -
Nepal" found HIV-positive women were denied access to
household resources. Women with HIV often are stigmatized as
immoral and blamed as spreaders of the virus.
The few remote villages with voluntary counseling and testing
centers "are so poorly run that they hardly make a difference"
for the women, said Ganashyam Bhandari of the HIV/AIDS
Alliance. Many women cannot afford to travel to one of Nepal's
13 centers capable of measuring CD4 cell counts; most of these
are in cities.
Community social worker Rani Devi Bohara blames persistent
stigma against women traumatized by infection, social
ostracism, and poverty on an apathetic government and a
society "unwilling to change." She notes that antiretrovirals
are needed, plus psychological counseling for patients and
families, income generation support, and welfare programs.
"We have no choice but to try and survive somehow," said the
leader of a group of HIV-positive widows. "The government is
not going to help us."