“Worst fears over HIV coming true”: Health Minister

Minister of Health Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed has expressed concern about the risks of HIV spreading rapidly in the Maldives, stating that “our worst fears seem to be coming true.”

Jamsheed said that although the Maldives had remained on the HIV less-prevalent category since the first HIV positive case was found in 1991, “all the habits that may lead to the spread of HIV is excessively in practice here,” stating that it was only through “incredible luck” that the disease had not already spread widely throughout the country.

At the press conference on Sunday, Jamsheed said: “What has always worried me most is that there is a large drug community, and that the virus might find its way into this group, especially the IV drug users. Once it does, it will spread like wild fire.”

“I don’t think this is too far off now. We have already identified one IV drug user who has been infected with HIV. What’s left is to see how much this has spread,” Jamsheed revealed.

Jamsheed further cautioned against assuming that the HIV virus would stay within the injecting drug user circle, pointing out that some drug users do so in secret, and that many are married to non-drug users who could just as easily be infected with the virus.

Minister of State for Health Lubna Zahir Hussain, who heads the National Drug Agency (NDA) and Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC) Director Maimoona Abu Bakr said that both their departments were taking preventive measures against the spread of HIV.

Jamsheed, too, said the NDA’s efforts to help drug users out of their addiction is a preventive measure against HIV as drug users are most at risk.

Meanwhile, the CCHDC is working with civil society groups like Journey, Society for Women Against Drugs (SWAD) and regional NGOs to spread awareness about STIs and HIV, and to encourage the public to change their habits to ways that present less risk of contraction.

Practical action or the moral highground?

Jamsheed said that he believed there were issues which needed to be opened to a “national debate” in order to move forward and take stronger preventive measures.

“We can simply stay inactive and keep talking for any amount of time by assuming the moral highground,’ Jamsheed said at Sunday’s press conference.

“That is to claim that we are Muslims, and by living in a Muslim state in Muslim ways we are doubtless protected from this disease. But that is never the reality anywhere in the world,” he said.

Jamsheed said it was unrealistic to assume all Muslims to live as “perfect Muslims”, and that even if they were, there was still a chance of infection. He stated that HIV is not transferred through sexual activity or visits to prostitutes alone.

“This is an argument I do not accept,” he said. “I presume that those among us who are already infected are also Muslims, being Maldivians. Of course, there are certain protections that being in a Muslim community affords us. For example, all of us men have been circumcised, which is proven to provide protection against STIs. To put it short, we need to work on more practical forms to prevent the spread of HIV.”

Sexual promiscuity elevating risks

The minister further spoke of the risks of promiscuity in the society, referring to the 2010 case where police arrested an HIV positive prostitute. He stated that the same prostitute had been identified in the Maldives as being HIV positive in the year 2009 as well, emphasising the risks to the spreading of HIV that such events presented.

Prior to his appointment as Minister of Health, Jamsheed had written about his concerns regarding the spreading of HIV in his personal blog, speaking about the “sexually active” lifestyle of the Maldivian people, which created a higher risk of infection.

“Maldivians have always been a sexually very active and promiscuous community. We have a very high divorce and remarriage rate, which increases the number of sexual partners any individual has over their lifetime. It is also a known fact that despite being a Muslim community, a lot of Maldivians have multiple extramarital relationships,” he had written then.

CCHDC’s Maimoona Abu Bakr also highlighted that “undesired sexual acts”, prostitution, injecting drug users and homosexuality proved to be some of the greatest challenges to preventing the spread of HIV.

In 2011, a total of 18 HIV positive cases were reported, out of which one was of a local. Between 1991 and 2011, 15 HIV cases were reported among Maldivians, while 168 cases of expatriate workers were also filed. Two out of the 15 cases were female, and all patients cited heterosexual transmission as the cause of infection.


23 thoughts on ““Worst fears over HIV coming true”: Health Minister”

  1. You cannot hide the fact that Maldivians like sex and being a small society it is difficult to avoid a calamity if we do not educate people. Trying to use religion to erradicate such a disease is very naive as we like it or not our drive for extramarital sex is too powerful.Why not teach people to use condoms?

  2. Jamsheed said it was unrealistic to assume all Muslims to live as “perfect Muslims”.

    "Mihaaru OKVaane!"

  3. I remember walking down Male's seaside walk way and spray-painted on the floor was this: ' Free sex and drugs'. so what is being seen in terms of HIV is only obvious. The silent killer is here. Maldives welcome to the REAL world!

  4. The fruits of harlotry, homosexuality and unveiled women, many of whom work outside the home, have finally ripened.

    Consider that a horse in the wild outside of its stable and away from supervision will be prey for wolves and the lascivious of its own species.

    As it is with a horse and its stable a woman's virtue and safety lie in her Hijab. Therein lies the solution to promiscuity and the diseases it spreads.

    May the ignorant, the MalDeviants and the harlots take heed.

  5. One of the participants of a sexual awareness workshop found his wife to be pregnant soon after the marriage, despite the use of condoms. Baffled by the outcome, consulted the local gynaecologist and showed to the doctor as to how he was wearing the condom. He squeezed to the tip of the condom to remove any unwanted air and easily slipped the condom into his right hand thumb!! Apparently, that was how it was displayed to him during the workshop. And he followed the entire procedure to the letter. He was continuously fulfilling his carnal desires with instant gratification, with a tightly gripped condom on his right hand thumb. The man didn't care two hoots about coitus interruptus; no need to with the condom on!! Little did he realize that, all his efforts in religiously following the procedure in sporting the condom were in vain. Wake up desert dwelling, Bon Aqua water bottle handling fellas! Our young generation need to be taught more than handling a camel! C'mon, Sex Education needs to be part of our school curriculum!!

  6. the government should start providing clean needles for addicts, as the government failed to stop them, so might as well help the society by helping addicts by providing them with clean needles. it will help stop the spread of HIV those IV usage.

  7. The prophet himself had so many wives and slaves. Why should we not enjoy life like him? Do we have to listen to extremists who some I know force their wives to wear the veil but don't use condoms when sleeping with foreign white or chinese women who eat pork?

  8. "sexually active" life style??. when in the history of humans did they acted in a "sexually inactive" lifestyle. goodness gracious. how pretentious can you be?

  9. The difference between Muslims as well as Catholics is that they live in denial. Beneath the extremely thin layer of religious protection, lie a perfectly preserved Homo Erectus, who has evolved to foray for food and have as much offspring as possible.

    Denying this makes one look not just silly but stupid.

  10. I suppose the Godless ignorant fools will never have anything good to say about Islam when the obvious truth is in front of them.

    The Dr himself is accepting this, that Islam is the obvious truth but the people are at fault. Surprised that Minivan displayed something which praises Islam!!

    And by the way Zakir, you ignorant fool, learn about Islam first to talk about it; the prophet was the one to give slaves their rights and freedom and the women he married; all most all of them was for humanitarian, legislative and political reasons after he was 50 years old on the request of their families and the companions and the women themselves.Period.

  11. Fact of the matter of there is no medicine. Dr. Niaf has appealed to President.

    To manage the PR fall, out Dr. Jam has come out this story. Yesterday it was about prostitution, today it was about HIV.

    I feel sorry for the above 9 commentators who get caught in the wave. As long as we have such idiot commentators the masses would be manipulated. Shame.

  12. Muslims engaging in premarital and extramarital affairs?! By FSM, this is the most shocking news I have heard in years!

    Also, I see that Shimy is getting his jimmies rustled yet again, as he comes to defend his pathetic beliefs. However, I think there's a way to solve this issue. The quran should certainly have a medical cure for AIDS. Corporations must study it immediately to start the manufacturing process.

  13. Denial, denial.

    Why dont we let go of this hypocrisy.

    Sex is rampant. Unbelievers are many. homosexuality, unmarried pregnancy, drug injection, abortion are regular.

    Face the darn problems and try resolving them. Dont act like an ostrich.

  14. @Wives and concubines,

    Your comment was obvious;eheeeheee!

    Whatever science did for men, cannot find a permanent cure for a simple illness like the sniffles or the flu and scientists talk about finding water and building houses on mars while millions of human beings starve to death everyday!!!who's jimmies are shaken here???

  15. The use of intravenous needles to inject drug is a known situation. I do not understand why the pharmacies do not sell syringes knowing that drug addicts will share the needles if they cannot get sterile ones.

  16. I did warn the dangers of the spread of HIV in a meeting where Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Permanent Secretaries attended in 2010 -only to be laughed at.

  17. Dr. Niaf has extremely close ties to the MDP. Therefore he has a lot to gain from making statements that might cast the current government in a bad light.

    For Dr. Niaf's connections to the MDP please refer to a personal account on twitter that appears to be his.

    We must always question the capacity of people making statements in this country.

    We have to stop this practice of taking comments made by certain person's seriously unless they have experience, training or carried out research in that area.

    There are shows on just about every channel featuring people who don't know head or tails about what they're talking about.

  18. dr.J we'd like to hear of those practical solutions you are thinking of. Does that include early sex education? Or setting up public health funded STI & HIV screening clinics? Does it include mandatory HIV & STI testing as part if working visa applications for foreign workers? Does it include HIV counselling for those identified as HIV infected? And what about a clean syringe program for I've drug users? ... And you are right, we need to face the facts about the fact our sexual behavior is no different to any other society - Muslim or otherwise!

  19. And I just want to point out that Dr J's statement that " all of us men have been circumcised, which is proven to provide protection against STIs." can be misleading. Circumcision reduces the chance if infection & transmission. It does not protect you. The only guaranteed barrier against STIs is use of condoms, or abstinence (god forbid!). Careless Dr J!

  20. Educate sex workers especially Maldivians!rather harassing and advise them to offer sex with all new protective methods!
    Offer condoms for free from every pharmacy .............
    Sex should be available at cheap prices because exposed and braced breasts plus nude films,songs and advertisements of females provoke any old,middle aged and young to run for sex.Preaching and punishing to sex lovers will never work as they since childhood had been offered a sex free society.
    Free sexual activities for all including foreigners will reduce crimes .... rapidly.The sex removes stress from mind if done without any fear.
    The foreign sex workers are pumping out millions even now from my country....
    The same millions can be blocked with in the country...... The state can take sex tax as they take from resorts (bed tax)..
    Some people may hate this comment but you all and state gives freedom of expression as every one's right.
    violence and crimes should not be the future of our beloved young generation in country.

  21. You an example of extramarital affairs and many sexual partners. You have been trying on so many nurses like us and failed miserably.

  22. Yeah he tried on me too, Nurse Aisha. But who would want that Baaqee. Once a Baaqee always a Baaqee.

    Plus, when he was at IGMH as Personnel Officer, he spent all his time with Mariyam Didi and Aishath Gafoor. Having tea.

    We poor nurse were left without increments. Finally Moosa Ismail got fed up of him for not sending the increment slips to "Raees Office" and sacked him. Ask Mr. Moosa Ismail, if you don't believe.

    All the staff of IGMH were not given increment when he was working in the IGMH office.

    You can be promiscous but you should not avoid work and run after Aishath Gafoor. She is still beautiful at the age of 50, but, you can't get her. Hehehehehe....

  23. Sex education should be introduced to school system. I applaud Dr.J for daring to say what he said. Human being is a human being regardless of her being Muslim, Christian or any other faith. Their wants and needs are not much different. Sex is a human right and everyone is entilted to enjoy it without the risk of being infected by a nasty disease. The answer is create more awareness among the public.


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