The term ‘Laj’ is used by Nepalese women when they speak about their expected attitude and actions surrounding pregnancy. To demonstrate how deeply felt this principle is, Nepalese women will often leave the home and deliver their baby with no outside assistance. Amazingly enough, women are also taught to suppress their cries of labor pains, and stifle screams that normally would accompany any contractions under typical circumstance. The women can be so intent on preserving their honor that they fail to seek help until complications – often life threatening for mom and baby – have arisen.
The critical first step in accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) is knowledge of one’s HIV status. Although voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) has been scaled up significantly in recent years, population surveys conducted in 2007-2009 by the WHO indicate that on average, less than 40% of individuals living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are aware of their status.