India: Housing for People Living With HIV/AIDS
Part of the "More Than Just a Roof Over My Head" Booklet
The HIV/AIDS Epidemic
India carries the largest HIV burden behind only South Africa and Nigeria; 2.27 million Indians are living with HIV/AIDS. The epidemic appears to be in decline from 0.34% prevalence in 2007 to 0.29% prevalence in 2008. The primary modes of transmission are through transactional sex, homosexual transmission, and injecting drug use (IDU). Socioeconomic vulnerability, coupled with the cultural taboo surrounding HIV/AIDS and female sexuality, has led to women's increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS; 90% of women who become infected are infected through their husbands or intimate sexual partners. HIV incidence is higher in cities with larger migrant populations.
Migrants and truckers have been identified as primary transmission bridge groups from the high risk groups to the general population. Short-term migrants account for nine million of the approximately 200 million migrants in India, while approximately half of the five million truckers drive long-distance routes. These working conditions and the extended separation periods make short-term migrants and long-distance truckers increasingly vulnerable to HIV transmission.
The Housing Crisis
Twenty-nine percent of India's population is urban; of those, 55% of the urban population lives in slums. In 2007, the housing deficit in India was estimated to be 40.66 million units (24.7 million houses in urban areas and 15.95 million houses in rural areas).
Women's property rights in India are insecure, and even more so in the context of HIV/AIDS. In the event of their husbands' deaths, many women are forced by their in-laws to leave their marital homes, even after these women have depleted all their assets to pay for medical treatment and funeral expenses. Widows' HIV-positive status is often used against them. Property is denied on the justification that these women will die from the disease anyway or that their positive status means that these women no longer deserve the right to own a share of family property.
Institutional Response & Solutions
India's National AIDS Control Program (NACP) has mainstreamed HIV prevention through programs at the Ministries of Women and Child Development, Labor and Employment, Social Justice and Empowerment, Railways, Defense, Surface Transport, and Human Resource Development. Social Security support and subsidized travel have been extended to PLWHA, while the State of Orissa and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have both issued Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards to PLWHA to ensure access to free/subsidized food and housing facilities. The State of Andhra Pradesh provides a monthly pension to 40,000 PLWHA living below the poverty line and undergoing ART treatment. The Ministry of Labor's program on HIV/AIDS aims to mitigate stigma and discrimination against PLWHA in the workplace, protect the rights and dignity, and raise awareness regarding HIV prevention.
Targeted interventions are aimed at both migrants and truckers through partnerships between the NACP and the Transport Corporation of India Foundation. Interventions aimed at contacting short-term migrants either in home or work locations originally had relatively low impact, so the intervention was shifted to contact migrants in sex work locations and through the media, which increased coverage from 30% to 34%. Condom social marketing and mass media campaigns compose the interventions for truckers, covering 30% of the targeted population.
While HIV-positive women and widows may turn to legal means for recovering and protecting property rights, which can be quite effective, formal procedures are time consuming and expensive for both individuals and legal organizations.
Ghose, Toorjo et. al., Mobilizing Collective Identity to Reduce HIV Risk among Sex Workers in Sonagachi, India: The Boundaries, Consciousness, Negotiation Framework, Social Science & Medicine: 67, 311-20, 2008.
Ghosh, Jayati, et. al., Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among women of reproductive age in the slums of Delhi and Hyderabad, India, Social Science & Medicine: 68, 638-42, 2009.
International Co-operative Alliance, Housing Co-operatives in India, 2008.
Pradhan, Basanta K. and Ramamani Sundar (United Nations Development Programme), Gender Impact of HIV and AIDS in India, 2006.
Saggurti, Niranjan et. al., Migration, Mobility and Sexual Risk Behavior in Mumbai, India: Mobile Men with Non-Residential Wife Show Increased Risk, AIDS & Behavior: 13, 921-7, 2009.
Swaminathan, Hema et. al., Women's Property Rights and HIV & AIDS: Evidence from India, Economic and Political Weekly: 44(17), 101-8, 2009.
Swaminathan, Hema et. al., (International Center for Research on Women), Women's Property Rights as an AIDS Response: Emerging Efforts in South Asia, 2007.
UNGASS Country Progress Report: India, 2010.
This article was provided by National AIDS Housing Coalition. Visit NAHC's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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