Talking about AIDS still taboo in Pakistan, says daily

Islamabad, Dec 5 (IANS) Talking about AIDS is still taboo in Pakistan and the ban placed placed on a condom advertisement “shows also how reluctant we are to address crucial issues”, said a Pakistani daily on Saturday.

An editorial “Talking about AIDS” in The News International said that Pakistan has never been good at discussing its AIDS problem.

“…There is generally a denial that Pakistan has a significant AIDS problem. According to official figures, less than 0.1 percent of the adult population is affected by HIV or AIDS.

“But in terms of numbers, this translates into a significant number of people. Government and Unicef estimates put the figure at around 97,000,” said the daily.

The editorial noted that there is an AIDS problem among specific segments of the population.

The most vulnerable are injecting drug users, sex workers as well as long-distance transport workers – like truckers – who have frequent contact with those working in the sex trade.

According to UNAIDS, the future of the disease depends on how successful Pakistan is in controlling the spread of the epidemic among vulnerable groups from where it could fan out to other portions of the population.

The daily observed that the “biggest obstacle to talking about AIDS is the problem is still a taboo one and few people are aware that it is possible in this age of medical science to control the disease effectively through the use of medication, provided of course that there is an early diagnosis and an acceptance of it”.

“The ban placed by the country’s media regulatory authority in 2014 on a condom ad shows also how reluctant we are to address crucial issues because we consider them socially or culturally inappropriate. This is dangerous and can only lead to the growth of diseases like AIDS,” it added.

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