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We don’t like talking about sex

December 2, 2006

When we went to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, I was absolutely shocked to see the headline in the country’s major English newspaper the very next day.
It said:

President urges men to have just one sexual partner in their life to control the spread of AIDS.

It was a big bold headline and I was shocked. Fresh from India, I was not used to such headlines. Yes, ofcourse in our media a rape case might hog headlines for days with all its sensational details, but if our President does make a mention of AIDS, it will not merit any headline. Perhaps the media is right in reporting sensational rape cases and not AIDS messages. Everyone knows what happened when a newspaper reported Khushbhoo (an actress) giving an AIDS message. People thought she was promoting promiscuity when all she said was that people should practice safe sex! No wonder film stars in our country are wary talking about sex and AIDS.
But here was this little African country so far ahead of us in tackling the problem of AIDS. Therefore it is not surprising that Africa is rapidly coming to grips with it’s AIDS problem and we in India are sinking deeper into the mire. We have overtaken South Africa in the total number of AIDS cases, according to new official figures from South Africa’s official statistics agency.
Frankly this was not really news to me. I knew that India had far more AIDS cases than what the official figures mentioned and that we were already far ahead of South Africa. UNAIDS/WHO estimates show that the majority of people who suffer from AIDS in India do not know about it. This ignorance on part of our population has been documented. A UNICEF survey found that only 17% of Indian males and 21% of Indian females have awareness of HIV. Not surprisingly, almost 60% of the infected people are of rural background, although they may be living presently in an urban set-up.
If we have to tackle our AIDS problem, we need to talk about AIDS openly. In our drawing rooms. In our newspapers. On national television. On the radio. All the time. Our politicians have to talk about it. Celebrities have to talk about it. Without fear of being ridiculed or being ostracized. Our country is facing a crises and the AIDS epidemic needs to be tackled on a war footing.

(Worlds AIDS day is December 1st)

Related articles: Transgender issues to be discussed on Tamil TV
Awareness of safe sexual practices is low
Teenagers in India have secret sex
Some guys have a twisted view of girls
At what age can girls and boys legally have sex?
One of the causes of the rampant molestation in India sexual frustration.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2006 1:51 pm

    According to the World bank statistics, the prevalence of HIV (% of population aged 15-49) in Tanzania is 6.5.[Tanzania population is 38.3 million]

    While in India the same statistic is 0.9 and the population is 1.1 billion.

    These are figures they computed for 2005.

    Statistics will tend to get distorted according to the needs of those in authority. But this suggests that the incidence if HIV in Tanzania, even after them knowing about AIDS, the situation is bad.

    Like you suggested, it should be told in the media and also the inhibition by people to talk of sex and AIDS should fade.

  2. December 6, 2006 4:18 pm

    India might have 1% of her population suffering from HIV but this amounts to a very high number. In any case, 1% is a misleading figure. The real figure they say is as high as 5% as a large percentage of Indians do not know they are suffering from the disease because of poverty and ignorance.
    If we don’t watch out and learn from those who have been there (Tanzania) we will be in the same boat one day.

  3. December 12, 2006 11:32 am

    Nita,
    I would like to disagree on one point. India, a lot of people do talk about everything related to the subject. We use so much of verbal abuse of words, we see explicit statements in papers like Times of India, but I do agree that we do not have any healthy discussion about the subject. We do not still accept the beauty, we still do not accept the love part of it. We are more eager in being explicit, where I feel, being implicit is not the issue. The issue is in the mind of people who still believe it is a taboo and the reason we want to talk about it is either to break the rules or to abuse.
    We all forget what is that separate us from animals. We tend to be worse than animals in the overall.

  4. Vijay permalink
    January 10, 2007 8:21 pm

    I am in Africa. And I have been watching what the media and the government is doing to creat awareness of HIV/AIDS in people’s mind here. Though the number of HIV cases are reported high. We must understand onething that the culture of Africa plays a very important role in the spread of HIV/AIDS such as alcohol, polygamy and partying etc. Where as in India, the culture is still intact. And the spread of HIV is among the people those who are ignorant of it. They need proper education and Sticking to one partner is basic priniciple of Indian society. So we can face this problem by talking about it healthy and making it educational. Well the conservative society of India might feel offensive. if only the cultural values are adhered and taught to the young people, then there will be an automatic eradication of HIV in India. Even the educated young generation which is exposed to the western lifestyle takes no care of HIV/AIDS. So its important that the society must open up in facing this problem without inhibitions.

  5. vinod permalink
    July 25, 2008 11:40 am

    Vijay, how does polygamy contribute to the spread of HIV?

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