Bangladesh AIDS Epidemic Exacerbated by Abuse of High-Risk Populations, Human Rights Watch Report Says
August 20, 2003
Police brutality against sex workers, injection drug users and men who have sex with men could "lead to an AIDS explosion" in Bangladesh, according to a report released today by Human Rights Watch, BBC News reports (BBC News, 8/20). Although, according to U.N. figures, less than 1% of the Bangladeshi population is HIV-positive, a lack of HIV/AIDS awareness and an increase in high-risk behavior in the nation could lead to an epidemic within the next 10 years. In addition, Bangladesh's age structure, with 30 million people below the age of 20; commercial sex trade; high rates of injection drug use; unsafe blood transfusion practices; close proximity to Thailand, Myanmar and India; and low levels of HIV/AIDS knowledge -- only 19% of married women and 33% of married men have heard of AIDS -- make the country susceptible to the spread of the virus (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/17). The 51-page HRW report, titled "Ravaging the Vulnerable: Abuses Against Persons at High Risk of HIV Infection in Bangladesh," documents "rapes, gang-rapes, beatings and abductions" performed by both police and powerful criminals in the country, known as "mastans." The report also indicates that some abuses are perpetrated against HIV/AIDS outreach workers, according to an HRW release (HRW release, 8/20).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.