Thursday, June 30, 2005

AIDS Threatens To Overwhelm Muslim Nations

From Agence French Presse:

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.

Well, maybe if the Muslims could find someone to blame, they would feel better, and it would make it easier to admit that there is a problem.

Let's see, who could they blame?