Housewives in Indonesia Now Most at Risk of HIV: Experts
Amir Tejo & Vento Saudale
Surabaya/Bogor. The groups with the highest risk of contracting HIV in Indonesia has shifted from commercial sex workers to housewives and children.
Emi Yuliana, of the Surabaya Aids Prevention Commission (KPA), said that in the past two years there has been a growing trend in the number of housewives with HIV/AIDS.
“Compared to PSK [commercial sex workers], the trend is increasing significantly. This is because many have intervened and made transmissions [of HIV] among PSK under control,” Emi said in Surabaya on Friday.
Dr. Kartika from Surabaya Health Agency said that community health centers (puskesmas) did not have programs concentrating on the detection of HIV/AIDS in housewives as programs in Surabaya Puskesmas are focused on pregnant mothers.
Kartika recommended using new tools to detect HIV/AIDS among housewives, such as score cards that would be distributed to pregnant mothers who come to puskesmas. The score cards will be able to gauge whether women are at high risk.
“For instance, [the score card includes] questions about their sexual behavior and their husbands’ job. If for example, the husband works as a inter-province driver and rarely comes home, we could consider them as potential. From there we will assess and give them counselling so that they will take an HIV/AIDS test,” Kartika said.
In Bogor, West Java, 60 percent of HIV/AIDS cases were from housewives. That marks a 12 percent increase and makes it the fastest growth rate among high-risk groups, exceeding the growth rate among commercial sex workers.
Data for 2012 showed that 1,542 people in Bogor were living with HIV and 949 were AIDS positive. The city recorded 65 deaths from the disease this year.
“Out of the total number of HIV and AIDS sufferers, 60 percent are housewives,” Edgar Suratman, head of the Bogor Regional HIV/AIDS Control Agency (BPAD), said on Friday.
Aside from housewives, a number of inmates at the Paledang penitentiary have also been infected with the disease due to sharing of needles for intravenous drug use.
“About twenty inmates at the Paledang penitentiary are suffering from the disease. The number continues to grow because every month, somebody gets infected. For them, we are coordinating with the penitentiary to overcome it. All expenses are covered by the Bogor city administration,” Edgar said.
Edgar said that the high figure is also contributed to by homosexual behavior. BPAD data showed that 339 female sex workers and 300 transvestites had been infected by HIV/AIDS.
“It’s estimated that 12,881 of their customers have also been infected,” he said.
Yusniar Ritonga, Bogor chief counsellor on HIV/AIDS, said that although the city is conducting blood tests on pregnant women the program has hit obstacles. Many housewives refuse the test as they believe it is taboo for them to take it.
“There are those that complied but the percentage is less than 10 percent. Those who tested positive became hysterical and immediately pointed their fingers at their husbands,” Yusniar said.
“Inmates who were declared positive seemed more ready because they know that using shared needles makes them more prone to diseases.”
Today marks World AIDS day.