It’s World AIDs Day and nothing hampers the prevention of HIV and AIDS more than ignorance and tabboo.
Sex is still a taboo subject in most Indian and Fijian communities.
In India, over 2.3 million adults live with HIV. Even a liberal Bollywood has been slow to push the envelope with no real commercial films on the subject though a recent film Kaminey did contain an AIDS awareness song and Aamir Khan is thinking about making one next year.
As for Fiji, given the ultra religious climate and condemnation of everything from abortion to pre-marital, HIV and AIDS education poses a real challenge. President Nailatikau, for all his faults, at least realizes the outdated and foolish nature of preaching abstinence. Whether or not the faith-based and religious leaders follow his advice is another matter.
AIDS is not just a gay male problem. Women’s empowerment and sex education are key preventative measures that cannot come faster for societies faced with a growing number of HIV+ cases. And big pharmaceutical companies won’t distribute vaccines or medications to people in need anytime soon. We are left to fend for ourselves.