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Sharp Rise In HIV Infections In Iran

The number of HIV infections in Iran has increased nine-fold over the past 12 years, and in stark contrast with previous decades, most infections were now through sexual intercourse not use of infected needles, the country's official IRNA news agency reported on Feb. 26.

A lecturer at Tehran's Medical Science University, Mohammad Hossein Ayati, told a conference on traditional medicine that while only 10% of HIV infections in 2001-2002 were from sexual contact, 91.33% of infections "in the last year" were from sex. (He was presumably referring to the Persian year that runs to March 20, 2013.)

Ayati did not give the latest AIDS numbers in Iran, but said increased infections were "ringing a big alarm." He urged preventive measures "including abstinence, marriage and use of protection, though none of these are taught in the country through the media or other means."

Sexual issues are not freely discussed in public in Iran — or much in private — though people are effectively encouraged to marry young to prevent promiscuity.

Beyond the HIV data, Ayati told the gathering there were other "dangerous" changes to Iranians' lifestyles, including eating more meat.

-Ahmad Shayegan

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