Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Knight Ridder/Kansas City Star Examines Iranian Government-Sponsored Efforts To Stem Spread of HIV
Knight Ridder/Kansas City Star on Sunday examined Iranian government-sponsored HIV/AIDS programs that are leading efforts in the Middle East to reduce the spread of HIV. According to the government, there are about 12,000 people living with HIV in Iran, but health workers believe the number is about 70,000. Iran's efforts to curb the spread of HIV "hing[e] on a delicate give-and-take between [advocates], who talk frankly about sex and drugs, and the ruling ayatollahs, who fiercely protect the Islamic republic's puritan image," Knight Ridder/Star reports. As part of Iranian government-sponsored programs, health workers distribute clean syringes and provide methadone treatment to heroin addicts and condoms to commercial sex workers. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "surprised" some HIV/AIDS advocates by supporting methadone treatment to reduce the problems of opiate addiction and HIV, Knight Ridder/Star reports. In addition, government clinics in every region of the country offer HIV screening, counseling and treatment at no cost, and a state-supported monthly magazine column recently began profiling HIV-positive Iranians. According to Knight Ridder/Star, one of Iran's "most acclaimed" programs is taking place in the nation's detention centers, where the Tehran administration is providing condoms and needles to hundreds of inmates who formerly shared "makeshift" syringes. Iran still faces challenges in reducing the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS, which drives many HIV-positive people to hide their status from family members and coworkers, Knight Ridder/Star reports. Iran's HIV/AIDS prevention program is being replicated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and other Muslim countries, where governments often "ignore the epidemic, quarantine HIV-infected people or preach abstinence as the only solution," according to Knight Ridder/Star (Allam, Knight Ridder/Kansas City Star, 4/16).
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