World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. Coincidently, I just finished reading a book in which the protagonist commits suicide after discovering that his lifelong habit of seeking out unprotected sex with random women had left his body infected with AIDS (The Company of Women by Khushwant Singh). I thought I would post on the topic since today seems to be the day to raise awareness.

Sunday Times article about possible plans to make HIV testing routine in this country stated that: “There are believed to be 77,000 people living with HIV in the UK. More than 25,000 people have developed AIDS and 18,787 have died.” The CIA World Fact Book listed countries by number of people  living with HIV/AIDS in 2009. African countries fill the top ten with the virus most prevalent in South Africa. The exception is India fourth and the US eighth. While the UK may not be extremely high on the list, a lot of people who come from high risk areas do live here and Brits travel to high risk areas as well.

The Metro highlighted a story the other day about Poipet, a border town between Cambodia and Thailand where sex trafficking is an issue and so is AIDS. Forced or voluntary prostitution also spreads HIV. A number of Western tourists who travel abroad where the underground sex industry is in easy reach are at a serious risk of bringing it home.

Mr Kumar thoroughly enjoyed “the company of women” and his life story was certainly interesting, but his suicide highlights the stigma that still exists around the virus (whether or not it is sexully transmitted) and the end of his life was early, tragic and full of regrets.


Events in the UK

World AIDS Day 2009

The Company of Women

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