A shockingly unhealthy revelation

The question that needs to be asked here is: Why is the Indonesian Health Minister shocked by the UN World Aids Day Report that documented the country’s dismal success rate (or high failure rate) in HIV prevention over the past decade.

Why was the minister shocked over something that has been happening over the past 10 years? Does she have a nervous preposition? Has she no clue as to what’s happening on the ground where HIV prevention is concerned? Does she not read newspapers? Do her people brief her only honeyed reports of what’s happening out there?

All very disturbing but Unspun is no expert on HIV prevention. Would like to hear from the very vocal and opinionated expert Elizabeth Pisani, an epidemiologist who worked in the field of HIV prevention in Indonesia and then went to write the fascinating book Wisdom of Whores on the shocking state of the minister and HIV prevention efforts in Indonesia.

Health Minister embarrassed with UN report on HIV/AIDS | The Jakarta Post

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboy said that the newly published 2012 World AIDS Day Report, which revealed Indonesia’s low success in HIV prevention over the last 10 years, was embarrassing.

“It [the report] really shocked me,” she said during a workshop on HIV-sensitive social protection held by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Wednesday.

The report by the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) published on Tuesday, disclosed that the rate of new HIV infectios in Indonesia increased by more than 25 percent between 2001 and 2011. The report said that HIV prevention programs for the gay community and commercial sex workers only reached less than 25 percent, which was considered low

Several other countries like Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka have similarly poor records.

“We have spent million dollars of HIV/AIDS prevention programs, yet, we still have such a low success rate. I don’t know what mistakes we’ve made,” Nafsiah said.

While highlighting Indonesia’s poors achievement, the report recorded success stories from other countries.

The report showed that 25 low and middle income countries, more than half of them in Africa, had successfully reduced new HIV infection by more than 50 percent.

Disappointed with the report, Nafsiah said that the government must move forward and keep providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

“People must learn how to be responsible and to defend themselves against HIV by avoiding risky sexual behavior and having only safe, protected sex,” she said. (lfr)