We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking any link on this page you are giving your consent for us to set cookies.
See Privacy Policy

Did you know...

The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has greatly reduced in the last 20 years (WHO 2011)
Read about CBM and vision

Exploring Disability and HIV linkage in India

the red ribbon symbol denoting HIV and a clip-art of a person in a wheelchair rushing away denoting Disability. the text in the image reads as 'Disability and HIV: Exploring awareness and Vulnerability of persons with disabilities in India.
© CBM India

CBM India initiated a study on HIV/AIDS awareness and associated vulnerabilities of people with disabilities in India. The study was conducted in six states of India. The recommendations from the study call for mainstreaming disability in the ongoing HIV/AIDS programmes.

People with disabilities vulnerable to HIV: CBM India study

An exploratory CBM India study has found low awareness, risk-taking behavior and lack of access to healthcare, placing people with disabilities at a high risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. In some cases people with disabilities are not even aware of their HIV/AIDS status even after undergoing tests, the study adds.   

Disability and poverty create a vicious trap for people with disabilities, pushing them on the margins in a state of dis-empowerment without a voice. The link between disability and HIV is similar, as the study confirms the vulnerability created by disability is due to lack of access to basic services makes people with disabilities more prone to acquiring HIV/AIDS.  

An emerging but important area

How HIV/AIDS and disability impact each other is still an emerging area of study despite the fact that people with disabilities are among high risk groups. A number of studies have shown that people living with HIV are also more likely to develop impairments as the disease progresses, hence may be considered to have a disability as social, economic, and political barriers hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

It is in this context that CBM India initiated a study in 2013-14 on HIV/AIDS awareness and associated vulnerabilities of people with disabilities in India. The study titled 'Disability and HIV: Exploring awareness and vulnerability' was conducted by FXB India Suraksha in Jharkhand, Gujarat, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh.

The survey involved 386 participants with a gender representation of 58% male and 42% women. The representation of different kinds of disabilities was ensured for a cross-cutting overview and included people with visual, hearing, speech, locomotor and intellectual disabilities.

Considering the stigma associated with HIV and disability, the participants were engaged through in-depth interviews with Key Informants, Focus Group Discussions.

Key findings

This study establishes that there is a prevalence of HIV/AIDS among people with disabilities covered under the survey and they are at risk due to low level awareness, vulnerability and poverty.

The responses from those surveyed clearly highlights a need for more in-depth studies, exploring gender, rural and urban divide and identity based-discrimination. There is a clear reflection of poor health seeking behaviour, lack of access and vulnerability created by disabilities that lead to sexual abuse and exploitation.

The fact that people with disabilities are not being reached by existing HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment programmes is clear from the number of respondents who are not undergoing any treatment despite testing positive.

High risk behaviour

The respondents showed a high level of awareness about the pathways of HIV/AIDS transmission. However, 10% of them believed that HIV/AIDS can spread through basic physical contact or sharing of food with an HIV positive individual.

Among the respondents who knew about condoms, a majority of them, about 77%, did not use condoms regularly.

10.9% respondents reported being sexually abused or being forced into a sexual encounter. Participants with visual and physical disabilities reported facing higher incidents of sexual abuse.

Over 54% respondents reported occasionally visiting commercial sex workers, with 27% saying that they visited at least once in a month.

15.77% respondent felt that their living conditions and poverty had created additional vulnerability, including sexual contact in return for money.


Government must allocate resources for effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as there is a link between the status of people with disabilities and implementation of disability legislations.

Access to HIV education, information and prevention services is critical and there is a need for a review of the existing awareness programmes and tools being used.

The current HIV/AIDS and health programmes need to be reviewed to ensure access for people with disabilities to treatment, care and support of HIV and related sexual and reproductive services.

There is a need to build capacity of grassroots organisations working on disability and HIV/AIDS to re-look at their ongoing programmes and involve persons with disabilities in the planning, implementation and evaluation.

Facts on Disability and HIV

  • A billion people with disabilities are part of the global population, according to the World Health Organization.
  • According to the National Census 2011, there are 26.8 million people with disabilities in India, which constitutes 2.21% of the total population.
  • As people with disabilities are among the poorest and most marginalised groups in India, most of them are currently not reached by HIV prevention and AIDS care outreach schemes.
  • India is home to the third largest population of people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the UNAIDS Gap report 2014.
  • People with disabilities do not have access to HIV education, information and prevention services.
Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion" Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion"

Winning combination of cricket and inclusion

Message by India’s T20 Blind Cricket Team on celebrating CBM India’s winning combination of cricket and inclusion.

Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school" Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school"

Why Vidya must go to school

We all feel very strongly about the need of education for enabling children to find opportunities and addressing development challenges of the country


Go to Website

CBM worldwide

back to CBM international

Or try this:

Due to your location and language settings you might be interested in the following CBM sites:

© CBM International

Meta navigation, Legal

Access key details