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Health Official Says Sexual Transmission Of HIV Rising In Iran

A senior official in Iran's Health Ministry says sexual transmission of HIV is on the rise in the country, in part, because of taboos about discussing sex.

Deputy Health Minister Ali Akbar Sayari said the share of HIV transmission through sexual intercourse had doubled during the past decade from 15 percent to 30 percent of all cases.

Speaking at a July 13 press conference in Tehran, Sayari said, "The pattern of AIDS transmission through sex is on the rise and people need to be openly informed about it if it's going to be controlled."

He said health officials "cannot explain all these issues openly and transparently to the people" in the conservative Islamic country -- including information about using condoms as protection against infection.

In recent years, in an effort to increase the birthrate, Iran has passed laws restricting the use of contraception.

On July 12, the Health Ministry said there are now about 32,000 people in Iran who were infected with HIV.

It said nearly 28,000 of the HIV cases are men and about 5,000 have contracted AIDS.

Based on reporting by AFP and IRNA