Report Saying Muslim Nations Must Do More To Fight AIDS Does ‘Grave Disservice’ To Battle, Opinion Piece Says
Statements in a report released last month by the Seattle-based National Bureau of Asian Research about HIV/AIDS epidemics in predominately Muslim countries "may be partly true for much of the Arab world but are clearly dubious in respect of most of Islamic Africa and nonsense when applied to Asia, where most Muslims live," International Herald Tribune columnist Philip Bowring writes in an opinion piece (Bowring, International Herald Tribune, 7/7). The report, titled "Behind the Veil of a Public Health Crisis: HIV/AIDS in the Muslim World," says leaders of many predominantly Muslim nations are ignoring potential HIV/AIDS epidemics and not acting to combat the disease, adding that "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." The report also says "political primacy of the Koran and weak or absent democracy" are impeding the fight against the disease in the region (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/30). However, the responses to HIV/AIDS in predominately Christian countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been "far behind" those of countries in the region with large Muslim populations, and denial of the epidemic among officials has been "far more stubborn" in democratic India than formerly authoritarian Indonesia, according to Bowring. "There is little to suggest that the region's Muslims have, as a group, been responding differently from its Christians either in terms of infection rates or denial," Bowring writes, concluding, "[T]o suggest that Muslim countries and peoples present particular problems in tackling AIDS appears not merely untrue but will do a grave disservice to the campaign against its spread" (International Herald Tribune, 7/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.