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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Muslim nations face AIDS reality|
|07/01/05 at 00:07:34|
|Muslim nations face AIDS reality Wed Jun 29, 1:06 PM ET|
An AIDS crisis is threatening to overwhelm many predominantly Muslim countries but their leaders remain in a state of denial and are doing little to stem the deadly problem, a pioneering study says.
In one of the most comprehensive reports on AIDS covering the Muslim world, experts warned of serious repercussions if governments continued to sweep the problem under the carpet.
In a report released by the Seattle-based think tank, the National Bureau of Asian Research, they said "if leaders continue to ignore the problem, AIDS could debilitate or even destabilize some of these societies by killing large numbers of people in the 15 to 49-year age group."
This would deprive the Muslim countries of some of their best, brightest, and most economically productive members, said Laura Kelley and Nicholas Eberstadt in the report.
A private infectious disease specialist, Kelly had previously undertaken AIDS research for the US National Intelligence Council as well as other diseases for the USAID, the principal foreign aid agency of the United States, while Eberstadt is a scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington-based think tank.
"An important take home message for all Muslim nations is that real behaviours on the streets are sometimes in marked contrast to the expected behaviours of good Muslims and that is something that leaders in these countries must deal with," Kelly told AFP.
The report said that even though the Muslim world was home to behaviors such as premarital sex, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, and intravenous drug use -- which help spread the HIV virus that causes AIDS -- many governments have been slow to respond to the rapidly spreading disease.
"What is especially troubling to behold is the reluctance to admit that Muslims engage in exactly those same dangerous behaviors that support the transmission and spread of HIV/AIDS elsewhere," it said, blaming "deeply rooted cultural and religious attitudes.
"This reluctance even to recognize the problem will only accelerate the epidemic and make it more difficult for the international community to provide meaningful support and treatment," the report said.
"We would have thought the Muslim world was in a sense vaccinated from this kind of pandemic but in fact the dreadful news is that it is not, said Michael Birt, the director of National Bureau of Asian Research's center for health.
"Now with the Muslim world becoming involved, its truly a global crisis," he told AFP.
Kelly proposed "sweeping legal changes" to reduce the social stigma associated with the disease and protect the AIDS sufferers in Muslim nations "to ensure them medical treatment, employment and discourage suicide."
The Muslim world of more than one billion people covers three continents -- from Albania and Turkey in Europe, across countries bordering the Sahara in Northern Africa, and through the Persian Gulf and South Asia to Malaysia and Indonesia in the east, the report said.
Officially, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates the total HIV population of North Africa, the Middle East, and predominantly Muslim Asia at nearly one million people.
At the end of 2003, UNAIDS estimated that up to 420,000 in Mali, 180,000 people in Indonesia, 150,000 in Pakistan, and 61,000 in Iran had HIV/AIDS.
"Those numbers, however, are severely understated," Kelly and Eberstadt said in a separate report on Foreign Policy magazine, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
They said UNAIDS figures depended upon surveillance data -- "thus a lack of information can be taken as a lack of infection."
UNAIDS data on the number of people living with HIV/AIDS is completely missing for Afghanistan, Turkey, and Somalia, "all nations with large numbers of at-risk populations," they said.
The study cited Iran and Bangladesh as among Muslim governments that seem to be combating the problem effectively.
"Iran's President Mohammad Khatami and his administration have been very forthcoming about the extent of the epidemic and the urgent need to control the further spread of the disease," it said.
"Perhaps surprising, given the Iranian regime's conservative reputation, needle exchange programs also have been offered in high drug-use areas of Tehran, and syringes are now sold over the counter in many pharmacies," the report said.
Kelley said some of Iran's anti-AIDS programs "are more liberal than some overseas programs funded by United States," citing condom distribution as among areas opposed by some Christian groups.
Hopefully, she said, the incoming administration of hardliner President Mahmood Ahmadinejad would continue and expand upon the education and prevention efforts.
|07/01/05 at 06:09:18|
I don't think most Muslims realize how big of an issue this is. I know that implementing programs about sex education is seen as somewhat of a taboo in most Muslim countries, but it is the only way to combat the spread.
The issue needs to be addressed, and handled carefully, but it needs to be done soon.
Riz Khan does the IQ show on ARY (I think), and he had this as the subject of one of his shows. The very next day in Pakistan, there was a short critical article on his show. Saying how maybe it's inappropriate to talk about these things. I can't believe that article made it in print.
It draws such a dichotemy where talking about STDs is a no-no, and yet it's okay to watch near-naked women on the bollywood channels 24 hours a day.
|How Can I Help?|
|07/07/05 at 05:57:36|
[quote]"An important take home message for all Muslim nations is that real behaviours on the streets are sometimes in marked contrast to the expected behaviours of good Muslims and that is something that leaders in these countries must deal with," Kelly told AFP. [/quote]
sad, shocking but true. It's time we faced up to what the reality is out there and stop burying our heads in the sand. Our Dawah and talks in the Masjid should include Sexual Etiquette and Behaviour in Islam. We have the same lectures over and over so much so that they seem to have lost their momentum because it's so out of synch with the problems of the times. We give SAFE lectures...let our lectures be reflective of the times so that it can be more effective, Insha Allah.
If anyone knows of parctical ways to approach this in a comunity then please let us know...where to / how to start? What to do?
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