Lebanon’s HIV/AIDS Awareness ‘Still Rudimentary,’ Lebanese AIDS Society Founder Says
Lebanese society "still has a lot to understand about HIV" and how the virus is spread, even though it has been almost two decades since the country's first AIDS case was identified in 1984, the Beirut Daily Star reports. The Lebanese AIDS Society, which is currently the only nongovernmental group working against the disease in the country, provides prevention information to the public, educates health care workers, treats and supports people living with HIV/AIDS and encourages clinical and scientific research on HIV/AIDS. Jacques Mokhbat, head of the medical team that discovered the first AIDS case in the country and the founder of the LAS, said, "HIV awareness is still rudimentary," which presents a medical, social and economic problem for the country. He said, "This is a country where 'sex talk' is still among the highest taboos. This is not good because people should be openly instructed about the way this disease functions. Ethics and AIDS prevention do not go hand in hand around here." Many Lebanese are "embarrassed" to take an HIV test, although doctors and laboratories in the country follow guidelines that guarantee patient confidentiality "regardless of the test and its result," according to the Daily Star. Still, Mokhbat said, "The education of the public becomes a hard task to achieve, especially in certain communities where any kind of information regarding sexual behavior is prohibited. ... [E]ven the distribution of pamphlets and condoms in exhibitions is viewed as disturbing" (Chahine, Beirut Daily Star, 6/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.