HIV in the Middle East has been characterized by denial since it is viewed as a disease existing in countries that are morally decadent. Obedience to Islam is offered as the best protection to this epidemic. The Middle East consists mainly of Arab countries and, therefore; there is some inclusion of North Africa in this paper. Data gathered by UNAIDS suggests the region has largely escaped the epidemic. 480,000 residents were living with HIV in North Africa and the Middle East at the end of 2003.
However, this is no cause for celebration as 75,000 people were newly infected in the same year alone. The quality of data in this region is seriously lacking as no country carries out systematic surveys of high risk groups. Estimations by UNAIDS put the total number of infected at a range of 200,000 to 1.4 million people and only 5% of those infected receive antiretroviral treatment. Population trends, beliefs and practices in the region have adverse effects on the data collected on HIV/AIDS. Traditional approaches are conservative, and it’s hard to break the silence on issues of sexual behavior.
Lack of available data
HIV/AIDS prevalence in middle east and north Africa is regarded according to available data as among the lowest globally. This means that the disease has not reached its epidemic potential in this region. This region should put in measures and policies to prevention of the disease from increasing to epidemic levels. Failure to put such measures would lead to heavy socioeconomic costs. The stigma in this region is one of the main contributors to the inability of the region to prepare itself against a potential epidemic.
Religious influence on spread of HIV
Does the Islamic religion have to do with the spread of HIV/AIDS? Well studies have shown the Islamic religion has a part in the spread in the epidemic. However, the reality is that the Islamic cultural practices aid in spreading HIV and aid in curbing the spread of the virus. According to psychologist, health organizations have faced an obstacle in curbing the spread of the disease. The Islamic culture allows men to marry more than one wife. According world health organization (WHO), having multiple sex partner is the largest contributor of the virus. According to their recent, this individual is 43% chances of contracting the virus if is involve in sexual activity and Men who engage in risky sex practices.
HIV/AIDS is more prevalent in women
In the Middle East, women are at higher chances of contracting the virus as compared to their male counterparts. According to the scientists, the amount of virus concentration in the semen is higher unlike in the virginal fluid. Now, how does this has to do with the spread of the virus? Well, according to 2009, health report released by tom Sheridan an Australian scientist, if a man has unprotected sex with a woman who is HIV positive woman; it is possible that he has chances of not contracting the virus. While, if a woman has unprotected sex with a man who is positive it is definite that she is going to contract the virus. Therefore, this has been a leading factor in the spread of the virus in the Middle East.
Additionally, women are at the risk of contracting the virus to the infant during giving birth. Therefore, the numbers of people who have contracted the virus also increase. Additionally, according the Islamic culture circumcision is a rite of passage that men have to undergo. In addition, according to Sheridan research, circumcised men chances of contracting the disease are reduced to 31%. This has been a leading factor in reducing the spread of the virus in males. According to the prevalence data released in 2012, the number of drug users in Middle East is standing at 47%. Most of the drugs used in this region are cocaine, heroin and narcotic. This drugs are injected to the human body through shared injection, therefore the chance one exposes himself to contracting HIV are increased.
Openness about HIV is needed in the Middle East
There is only one way to eliminate this pandemic in Middle East, which is openness. All the involved governments should introduce school based sex education. This will not only be informing the young generation about the virus, but also saving the future generation. Moreover, this will help in miners with knowledge on how to avoid immoral behaviors that lead to the spread of the dangerous disease.
Information dissemination will help in curbing the pandemic with at least 61%. According to studies, 47% of adults do not know how to use a condom. This has been either because of their culture condemns such acts or just ignorance. Therefore, it would be right for the government to initiate such programs that will inform the society on the importance of the use of condom. Information dissemination should be introduced in hospitals this is due to the high rate of infants who contact the disease breast-feeding or during birth. Additionally, the government should work together with local leaders. This leaders have the ability to bring together all age group. There is a need of informing all age group with any favor.
Finally, the government should support programs that are aimed towards eradication of the pandemic. Therefore, there government should offer security support and financial support towards such programs. This is because in middle east HIV/AIDS face insecurity challenges trying to get to people at the grassroots level.