Reproductive tract and sexually transmitted infections among currently married women in India: findings from DLHS-RCH

Rekha Mohapatra, Sambalpur University
Soumya Mohanty, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

Issues relating to reproductive tract and sexually transmitted infections (RTIs/STIs) have begun to draw importance recently in India for the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country. The prevention and control of RTIs/STIs, including HIV, have become national priority. However, the epidemic continues to spread widely, and little is known about rates among women in India. The concern is more, since women are affected at a younger age than men. This paper focuses on the individual attributes of women that determine health outcomes through the understanding of infections in relation to their awareness and knowledge on reproductive health problems. The District Level Household Survey Data which was under taken in 2002-04 among currently married women aged 15-44 and their husbands in 593 districts of India is used. The findings show that women’s increased biological vulnerability is compounded by their subordinate social status in many parts of India and suffer silently with RTIs/STIs. Awareness and knowledge of mode of transmission of RTI/STI is lower among younger, non-literate women, and women from schedule tribes. The standard of living index shows a positive relationship with awareness of RTIs/STIs. Rather than health professionals, relatives and friends are the prominent source of information of RTIs/STIs. The prevalence of any reproductive health problems and specific symptoms are higher among rural women with low treatment seeking behavior than urban women. The utilization of private health facility and the Indian system of medicine is high among urban women than rural women who mainly utilized government health facility and chemist or medical shop for treatment. Thus, education and out reach are needed to reduce stigma and lack of knowledge related to RTIs/STIs and their treatment. The low social status of women, especially young women, appears to be a significant influence on their low rates of treatment for these health problems.

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Presented in Session 16: Reproductive Morbidity