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Poverty Fuels HIV In Poor Indian States

The residents of the poor states of India migrate to the industrialized regions in India's west and south for better prospects and end up with AIDS.// Bihari migrants are estimated to range from two million to ten million. Biharis usually work as taxi drivers, mechanics, security guards or domestic servants in India's big cities.

"I just did not think about what I was doing," Srivastava, a Bihari aged 48, told Reporters in Patna, the capital of Bihar in eastern India. He adds how much he regrets visiting prostitutes while he was away from his home working in another state.

Srivastava is one of the millions of poor Indians who migrate to other places in search of work, get infected with HIV from prostitutes in cities like Mumbai or Bangalore and carry it home to their wives.

Srivatsava’s wife, who is HIV-negative, kicked him out of the house after learning about his disease. "My wife's action really hurt me," he said, "We were supposed to be life partners."

December 18, is the United Nations' International Migrants Day. "You can't expect all these millions to remain celibate when working outside their state," Denis Broun, India head of UNAIDS, the United Nations anti-AIDS agency, said.

According to the United Nations statistics, India has the world's largest cases of HIV with about 5.7 million Indians living with HIV/AIDS.

At present the state is classified under low prevalence with 0.3 percent of adults living with HIV/AIDS, or around 135,000 people but actual numbers may be higher as the surveillance techniques are not very good.

Due to the stigma attached to the disease many affected people suffer secretly.

“It is poverty that is fuelling HIV in this state," said Bihar's health minister Chandra Mohan Rai. “More than 42 percent of Biharis live under the official poverty line against an all-India figure of 26 percent,” he added. “Use condoms," Rai tells the crowd.

Awareness posters show a man at a railway platform, waiting for a train. The poster reads "I know about AIDS so I will stay true when I leave home for a different place."


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