Over the years, there has been growing evidence of continuous narrowing gender gap in new HIV infections. It may be primarily due to poor status of women, lack of control over sexuality and poor reproductive and sexual rights among women. This paper utilizes the data from two rounds of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3 & 4), Indian version of Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). The results portray that despite the increase in women empowerment in India, measured with indicators namely ownership of household assets including house/land, having separate bank/saving account, and owning a mobile phone, the comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS, a means to reduce women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS has not improved significantly. The study also states that the level of spousal violence has reduced by almost 20 percent in NFHS-4 as compared to NFHS-3. The prevalence of women participation in household decision making his increased in all the states compared to last round. There is an extensive awareness among women regarding condom use as a protection against HIV, yet the comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS among women is below expected level. The relationship between women’s empowerment and contracting HIV infections has been accepted worldwide. However, the recent evidence from NFHS 4 do not support pronounced association between women’s empowerment and consistent condom use vis a vis prevalence of HIV. The relationship seems to be spurious in well-known high HIV prevalence states of India like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur and Karnataka. Therefore, all the programmes to curve the pace of HIV epidemic focusing at reducing woman’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, should not merely focus at general woman’s empowerment but there should be specific awareness and capacity building programmes addressing comprehensive knowledge and condom promotion among women.
S.K.Singh, Bhawana Sharma, Deepanjali Vishwakarma
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