Iran's health minister has warned that the number of people in the country infected with HIV/AIDS has risen dramatically over the past two decades.
The "Shahrvand" newspaper on December 2 quoted Hassan Hashemi as saying, "The disease has increased by 80 percent annually."
Hashemi added that the "pattern has changed from transmission of the infection through drug injection to unprotected sexual intercourse."
He further noted that a huge part of the problem was the "negative public attitude" toward HIV/AIDS and those who are infected, and that "unless the taboo is broken there will be no progress in controlling the disease."
HIV/AIDS and extramarital sex is rarely spoken about in public in Iran.
Deputy Health Minister Ali Sayyari blamed the spread of HIV/AIDS on satellite TV programs, gyms, and beauty salons, which he described as a "triangle of death."
Based on reporting by ISNA and AFP