People living in vulnerable areas, such as people living with HIV, are at risk of being hit extra hard by extreme weather. Pictured: A flood in Indonesia. Similar extreme weather has affected several countries in Southeast Asia. Photo: International Rivers. Source: Flickr.


Extreme weather increases the vulnerability of people with HIV in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has recently been hit by several floods and other weather-related disasters. People who are already living in vulnerability are often worst affected the consequences of extreme weather. For example can people living with HIV lose prevopportunities for their drugs - or hero miss medicines 

Already the first week of March had over 30 different Types of weather-related disasters affected the countries of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in Southeast Asia. Climate change affects extreme weather in both intensity and frequency. The weather leads to social side effects when many become internally displaced persons, structures for security disappear in floods and established systems are lost. The Red Cross tells how they work systematically in the Philippines after a tropical storm, estimated to have affected over 2 million people, recently hit the country.

Typhoons, tropical storms, floods and earthquakes hit the people living in affected areas hard. But by working with preventive measures and preparedness, many lives can be saved, writes the Red Cross on their website.

In March, an estimated 40 people in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have been affected by floods, landslides, earthquakes, strong winds, tornadoes or volcanic eruptions. Of those affected, 2 people have been displaced from their homes and 100 houses have been destroyed. The trend continued in April when 18 people in the Philippines and Indonesia were estimated to have been displaced from their homes due to floods, strong winds and an earthquake.

Part of the problem with weather-related disasters is that those hardest hit often they are most marginalized. One of the organizations that support people during humanitarian crises in the region is the UN Population Fund UNFPA, which, among other things, provides emergency packages for people in vulnerable areas living with HIV. The packages contain basic toiletries, clothes and a box to store antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) safely. It is essential to maintain your ARV treatment once you have started it. An estimated 540 people live with HIV in Indonesia, according to UNAIDS.

- A recipient told me that she was grateful to receive the package. When her house was under water for a month, most of her clothes were destroyed. The package catered to her needs, explained Ika Rizka, provincial coordinator within the initiative Ikatan Perempuan Positif (IPPI), in a press release for UNFPA.

Ika Rizka also talks about how the stigma of HIV affects both how people with HIV react in crises and how people around them perceive the disease. IPI, which supplies the emergency packages in consultation with UNFPA, initially offered the packages to HIV-positive people in front of their family and friends who may not have been aware that the person was HIV-positive. As a result, many people chose to refuse IPI assistance and family members and friends became angry, unaware of its contents, at not being offered the emergency packages themselves. IPI learned from the experience and has since changed its delivery methods.  

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