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Wesleyan University

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Tibet/Bhutan: Tibetan and Himalayan Studies


The fight against HIV/AIDS is a global one, a concern that is addressed by both the Nepali government and the Tibetan government in exile. Both governments have taken measures to prevent the further spread of the epidemic among their populations, increase knowledge and awareness about the disease, and provide better treatment and care to those living with HIV/AIDS. However, there is a gap between these efforts, particularly within the Tibetan refugee community. As a result of Tibetan’s refugee status in Nepal, fewer resources have been allocated for dealing with and understanding the risk factors for Tibetans in exile in Nepal. Without a commitment by the Nepali government, international health care organizations, or the Tibetan government in exile to understand the particular risk factors for Tibetans and their perceptions of HIV/AIDS, any efforts that aim to control the transmission of HIV will be futile. Using interviews with former Tibetan drug users, Tibetans who are HIV positive, Tibetan doctors and Tibetan government officials, I examine a) HIV risk factors for Tibetans living in Nepal, b) Tibetan perceptions of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in their community, c) the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in the Tibetan community and d) additional risk factors that make Tibetans especially vulnerable to the transmission of HIV/AIDS. I conclude by offering recommendations for further research that seek to improve the structural and environmental context in which awareness and prevention programs aimed at Tibetans in Nepal are implemented. The very fact that HIV/AIDS is a largely undocumented topic among Tibetans in Nepal suggests that research on this issue should be pursued. However, such research must be executed with awareness of the cultural and political context that it is working under. More focused attention on how Tibetans actually behave and perceive their risks for HIV transmission is a critical tool in combating the spread of the HIV/AIDS.


International Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion



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