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Q&A: COVID-19’s economic impact on women living with HIV


A district-level workshop organized by Yerala Projects Society, a Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant recipient. Photo by: YPS While COVID-19 has disrupted many people’s livelihoods, people living with HIV/AIDS face an additional burden because of the stigma and discrimination they often encounter, which can make it hard to find work, according to Shreepal Saptasagar, director at Yerala Projects Society — a nonprofit working to support the health and well-being of rural Indian populations and a 2019 Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant recipient.

According to the “ India HIV Estimates 2019 ” report, there are 2.35 million people living with HIV in India, with Maharashtra having the most of any state. Although the prevalence rate may be considered low on an international scale, the size of the overall population in India means it has the third-most people with HIV.

Indian women in particular are disproportionately affected by stigma and discrimination, Saptasagar said, making it extremely difficult for them to gain an education and find a sustainable income.

“The effect of [male] domination and discrimination [against] women becomes even worse for those already marginalized because of their economy, HIV status, and community to which they belong.”

— Shreepal Saptasagar, director, Yerala Projects Society

“While implementing various […]

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