Description Pakistan, the second most populous Muslim nation in the world, has started to finally experience and confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The country had been relatively safe from any indigenous HIV cases for around 2 decades, with most of the infections being attributable to deported HIV positive migrants from the Gulf States. However, the virus finally seems to have found a home-base, as evidenced by the recent HIV outbreaks among the injection drug user community. Extremely high-risk behaviour has also been documented among youth (school going and out of school). The weak government response coupled with the extremely distressing social demographics of this South-Asian republic also helps to compound the problem. The time is ripe now to prepare in advance, to take the appropriate measures to curtail further spread of the disease. If this opportunity is not utilised right now, little if at all could be done later. Islamic charities provide health, education and social services to millions of people in Pakistan. But in Pakistan still sexuality is a taboo topic. Strong hold of religious leaders on socio cultural pattern of community (attitude with extremism). Prevailing concepts to talk about sex considered as act of vulgarity and immoral activity. Word STIs and HIV/AIDS conceived as symbol of sexual delinquencies.
Method Through a Questionnaire data on knowledge, attitude, behaviour and practices related to STIs/HIV/AIDS was collected from 1200 male religious students and religious scholars from randomly selected Islamic religious centers. Baseline knowledge, attitude, acceptability of the concept were assessed.
Results According to KABP study 70% students have friends of opposite sex and due to strong religious values and restriction 30% have no friendship with opposite sex. Regarding nature of sex, 40% had kissing and only 18% had intercourse. During intercourse only 3% used condoms. 42% consider that condom is used only for family planning purpose. 56% answered that during intercourse use of condoms reduce sexual pleasure and enjoyment. 32% youth use drugs and 38% did not know about STIs and HIV/AIDS. General discussions were also started with four Maderssas students and their teachers. These meetings addressed the sensitisation of religious scholars to the issue of HIV/AIDS and highlight the role of Maderssas in STIs and HIV prevention.
Conclusions Training of adolescent as peer educators is recommended. Ours being an Islamic society, such information should be given to youth in a way that does not challenge local norms and values. Problem-based learning and participatory education for improving knowledge and condom use and community-based interventions should be considered for STIs/HIV/AIDS prevention.
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