Vulnerability to HIV in Humanitarian Emergencies: A Study of Tsunami Affected Communities in India

Shiv K. Narayanan, Swasti Health Resource Center
Raghunathan Narayanan, Swasti Health Resource Center
Benoy Peter, Swasti Health Resource Center

Understanding on vulnerability to HIV in humanitarian emergencies is limited to conflicts. Natural disasters like Tsunami are hypothesised to have increased vulnerability to HIV. This unique study focused on understanding the vulnerabilities of Tsunami affected communities in India, to HIV; covering 30 locations through multi-stage sampling, across five states, using mixed methods. Vulnerability existed in almost all locations; heightened in two-thirds locations. Physical proximity of displaced populations was the primary factor contributing to a chain of events that led to increased vulnerability. Increased unprotected sex with non-regular partners was the key risk factor. Coastal communities in the tsunami hit areas were vulnerable to HIV even before Tsunami. The effects of humanitarian crises and aid measures influenced the behaviour and practices of the affected, significantly heightening vulnerability. There is need to mainstream HIV and AIDS components in humanitarian aid and include communities from disaster-prone areas into national HIV and AIDS interventions.

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Presented in Session 22: Health and Environment