Nepal: Widows Living with HIV Face Desperate Situation

A recent survey finds that wives of migrant workers are particularly at risk for HIV infection. Prevalence of HIV among the wives of migrant workers is estimated at 0.8 percent, higher than the estimated national average of 0.3 percent. For widows the situation is particularly difficult. Among the widows of migrant workers HIV prevalence is as high as 22.5 percent according to a 2010 Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance Survey conducted in Nepal’s Far-Western region. Most of these women have little money left for their own medical care having spent what little they had on treatments for their husbands before they died.
 
Despite this growing problem the government is doing little for these women. Nani Devi, coordinator of HIV-positive single women’s support group, Nava Prabhat Ekal Mahila Samuha, explains, “There is no humanitarian aid or HIV/AIDS care for these poor widows, who are living in total despair because of government indifference.” The National Center for AIDS and STD Control in the Ministry of Health and Population coordinates most of the funding for HIV/AIDS at the national level, but according to NGO workers and local government officials it has neglected the remote district of Dailekh where many widows live. In response, Maria Elena Filio-Borromeo, the country director for the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS has pledged to raise the issue with government officials.
 
Compiled fromNepal: HIV widows on the edgeIRIN (15 May 2012).