By Kamil Zaheer
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian men cannot be trusted in their sexual behavior and are fuelling the country's HIV epidemic, a female cabinet minister said on Monday, slamming the country's "hypocrisy" about sex.
Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury said Indian women should protect themselves from HIV/AIDS by keeping condoms as their straying husbands may bring the virus home after visiting other women.
"You cannot trust men or your husbands, with apologies to the men present here," Chowdhury told the inaugural meeting of the National Women Forum of Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+), attended by a few men.
"If you believe that men will be careful, then you can forget about protecting yourself."
India has around 2.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS -- the world's third highest caseload after South Africa and Nigeria -- with about 40 percent of those infected being women.
The solution to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has to be behavioral. Unfortunately, in some places the behavior is cultural and not prone to change. Some cultures condone prostitution and extra-marital affairs (hey, we’re all having a good time). And some cultures don’t appreciate condom use (who does?). And some cultures don’t buy into preventative measures like circumcision (ouch, right?). And some cultures do all three. This is a problem. Maybe India, South Africa and Nigeria just need champions for the cause. Magic Johnson raised AIDS awareness here. And they need campaigns to dispel false information like the belief in South Africa that having sex with a virgin can cure a man of AIDS (for realsy?). Education is the only cure for this scourge. This has been your Debby Downer moment of the day.