Indian awareness of the gravity of the HIV/AIDS seems a curious story by itself. A new global study says: "While 79 per cent of Indians understand AIDS is always fatal, 59 percent still wrongly believe there is a cure for it available today."
The study was conducted by the MAC AIDS Fund, the philanthropic arm of Estée Lauder-owned pharmaceutical major MAC Cosmetics in September 2007 in nine countries, including the US and Britain.
As per the study, although Indians generally recognise HIV/AIDS as the most serious health problem facing the country today, confusion and misperceptions about the disease reign here.
The study said that Indians generally complained of lack of access to information on various aspects of the disease, including how it is spread.
As per the study, 65 per cent of Indians attach a sense of shame and stigma with the disease, which contributes to the threat of it acquiring an epidemic proportion.
People in India are more uncomfortable in interacting intimately with HIV positive or AIDS victims than people elsewhere in the world, the study said, adding that 44 percent are hesitant to share a physician with someone who has HIV or AIDS.
Thirty eight percent of the Indians surveyed confessed that they feel uncomfortable working with a HIV positive person, while some said they do not want to live in the same house as someone who has the virus, the study added.
Presenting the finding of the study, MAC AIDS Fund chairman John Demsey said: "The survey results illustrate the urgent need for public access in India to information on HIV and AIDS."
"This is a wake-up call that not only do we need to improve basic education about the realities of the disease - including how it is contracted and how it is treated - we also need to do some serious on-the-ground work to alleviate the sense of shame and stigma that surrounds the disease and prevents people from being safe and seeking treatment," he added.