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< prev - next > Water for Life - Community water security (Printable PDF)
Water for Life
Water and HIV/AIDS
Health problems from water scarcity or germs in water can be especially dangerous
to people who are already affected by chronic or life-threatening illnesses such as
HIV/AIDS. But governments and organizations in areas with high rates of HIV may be
less able to meet community water and sanitation needs because they must use scarce
resources to care for the HIV crisis, and because they may lose workers to the disease.
The HIV/aids disease is NOT passed from person to person through water. But
lack of water to wash and sterilize health care instruments in hospitals and health
centers can make prevention of the HIV disease more difficult.
HIV makes people more vulnerable to water-related illnesses
When people’s bodily defenses are weak from HIV, diarrhea diseases are more likely
to affect them and it is much harder to recover. Infants and children infected by HIV
are especially vulnerable. Worms that might not be life-threatening for people who are
otherwise healthy can cause pneumonia if they travel into the lungs of HIV-infected
people. People taking drugs for HIV may have complications when taking other drugs
to treat diarrhea and worms.
HIV compromises people’s access to enough safe water
It is important for people with HIV to have access to safe drinking and washing water
near the home, as well as water for gardening, raising animals, and other home-based
activities. Having HIV makes access to water difficult because:
People with HIV may be too weak to collect and carry water.
Households headed by children or elderly people may be left out of decision
making, leaving their needs for water and sanitation unmet.
Women are the main caretakers for people with HIV as well as being heavily
affected by the disease itself. When they are also responsible for collecting and
treating water, the burden of work becomes too much.
HIV leads to increased poverty because it costs money to take care of the sick
and because there are fewer people working to earn money for the family. This
makes it much harder to pay water fees.
Water security for people with HIV
Health workers, water and sanitation promoters, and
caregivers all need training about water and
sanitation-related infections and how to
keep people with HIV/AIDS safe.
People with HIV, their caregivers,
and children, women, and elders
left behind by people who have
died, need to be included in
planning for water projects.
When water security is
respected as a human right, the
most vulnerable people in the
community will have their needs
met and everyone will be safer and
People with HIV/AIDS need safe water, good
nutrition, and medicines they can afford. But
most of all, they need our care and support.