India's HIV Widows Find Support in Marriage Bureau
Tuesday, June 12, 2007 4:25 PM

In India, 5.7 million people are HIV-positive; of this population, 39 percent are women. A lack of education and unequal gender relations make it difficult for women to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. Many men who are HIV-positive hide this fact from their brides, thereby causing women to become infected after marriage. If a woman happens to survive her husband, his family often strips her of inheritance rights and throws her out of the house. Widows then are forced to support themselves. In addition, there are other social consequences for women living with HIV. They may be blamed for their infection and shunned by society. As a result of widespread prejudice, some hospitals may even deny psychological and medical treatment to women living with the disease.

A positive development took place in 2003 when the Gujarat State Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS opened a marriage bureau in the city of Surat. This is a place where HIV-positive men and women can find support and companionship.

Compiled from: "Marriage Bureau Specializes in India's HIV Widows," Mridu Khullar, Women's eNews, 6 June 2007.