Thursday, July 28, 2011
Right, so I've realized that I haven't given much of an update on my research project since I've been here: So far it has been a really good experience.
For those of you who don't know I am researching how HIV effects women and their children in the villages around Coimbatore. I am interviewing several women to see what challenges they have in their lives and how their lives have changed since they have found out they were HIV positive. I initially just wanted to study how it effected the individual "woman" but I quickly learned that HIV is a disease that doesn't just effect one person, it effects the entire family. Coming into this I knew in general that their lives would probably be made more difficult, but I wasn't aware of how much.
For example, many of the women are widows or their husbands also have the disease and are unable to work. As a result she is the main provider for her family. So the monthly income is generally around 2000 rupees a month, which equates to more or less $40. Just to give you an idea of how much that is worth here, their monthly rent, is also about 1000 rupees a month. So in order to pay everything they get extra money by sending their kids to work or doing extra jobs on the side, or if they've told their family and their family is supportive sometimes they can get support from them. As I've spoken with the women they've said that one of the most challenging things is that in order to maintain a reasonable health they need to be on ART medication. But this requires strict adherence to a schedule of taking it twice daily with a healthy meal before each dosage. These women do not have the money to eat a healthy meal before each dosage, which can give them side affects and make them sick. So really, they need the ART in order to be able to work and provide for their family, because they are the only ones that are able to do so. But they are not able to meet some of the necessary requirements to take ART effectively. So this can cause the women to get sick, which will cause them to miss work and make even less money. It is a very viscous cycle.
Have you ever been sick and not have energy to work? This past week I haven't been feeling very well and I was reminded of how hard it is to work when I don't have proper health. I couldn't imagine feeling like that regularly. And generally when you have HIV, you more easily get infections, illness, etc.etc. etc. depending on the state of your immune system.
So something that I think would be good for those who are HIV positive would be some sort of educational course, that would allow them to learn how to eat healthy while on a low budget. Of course assistance with buying food would be a great help too, but the problem with outside funds is that the only last for so long,whereas if they know what kind of food will give them more energy and nutrients they can help themselves for longer on a lower budget.
Anyway, this is just one aspect that I've been finding so far in my research. I'll try to write more at a later time.