Health Impact of Improved Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Focus

The suffering of people living with HIV/AIDS and the burden to their caregivers can be eased by addressing water and sanitation conditions.  Many of the opportunistic infections that weaken and kill people living with HIV/AIDS are transmitted through contaminated water and unsanitary living conditions.  Once they are sick, they frequently suffer from diarrhea and require good access to latrines and large quantities of water for keeping them and their surroundings clean.  Recent studies by the CDC have revealed that the frequency of diarrhea can be reduced by providing improved water.
Specific Benefits for Women

Improved water and sanitation can help prevent the transmission of the HIV and its associated infections. Safe disposal of infectious stool, handwashing, and appropriate disposal of bloody fluids can protect caregivers and the community from infection.  Due to lack of access to safe water for preparing infant formula, many HIV positive women breastfeed even though this exposes their babies to HIV.  If a reliable source of safe water and infant formula can be provided until the baby starts to eat weaning foods at six months of age,the generational spread of the virus can be reduced.   Dr. Tulenko argues that access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene services should be seen as a health priority.  View her presentation here.

photos: Sajid Darokhan/ WSP-SA


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Kate Tulenko
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