Root causes and controversies surrounding HIV/AIDS in Indonesia
Many people know that, as far as HIV/AIDS sufferers in ASEAN goes, Thailand is the largest in terms of actual numbers and potential victims. Yet, Indonesian HIV/AIDS victims are growing and grows fast.
Jane Wilson writes in The Jakarta Post today that “… between 169,000 and 216,000 Indonesians now estimated to be living with HIV and AIDS.”
The National AIDS Commission, Wilson further explains, also give us province by province data — the highest being 26,805 in Jakarta, 21,487 in Papua and West Irian Jaya (48 percent of which are women) and 15,999 East Java, 14,341 in West Java, 11,044 in North Sumatra and even 973 in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
While Jane Wilson in her capacity as UNAIDS Country Coordinator discusses on prevention matter and some technical loopholes on the part of our governments on this regards, some Indonesians on the street have been through a long debates on the root causes of this most deadly and contagious endemic.
At least there are two major contradictiory extreme opinions regarding the spread of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia among grass root level which we can see through any debates on popular mailing list like this one:
First, those who think that it happens merely because of extramarital relations (adultery with prostitute or any sexual relationship outside the wedlock). By this proposition, this group conclude that HIV/AIDS is a punishment from God for the sinners.
Second, those who nullify the first opinion; regard it as mere rubbish and focus heavily on the mother-to-child or blood transmission as the sole cause.
As usual, any extreme opinion is unwise; and any unwise thought always lead to partial truth or at times, partial lies. The fact is both are correct causes which are needed to look into by any individual and community leaders and discuss what to do as pre-emptive action to avoid further spread of the desease.
Having said that, those who think like the first one can be understood in the context of Indonesia. Despite being the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesian life-style is mostly far away from being Islamic in its strictest sense of the term.
There are at least four major sins any Muslim must avoid at all cost: adultery, killing people, drinking alcoholic beverage and gambling.
As a matter of fact, however, prostitute can be easily found in every nook and corner of any Indonesian city; those who have licence to be ones or not, day in and day out. Indonesian society is much more “open” in any “universal” term you can imagine. Finding sex worker in Indonesia is much more easier than say, India, the largest Hindu countries in the world. An ironic but true. There’re many stories among Indonesian officials visiting India who feel frustated because it’s so hard to find any chick-in-service even at five-star hotel (I can tell you more on this privately even some names…).
So, keeping that in mind, no wonder if opinions like the first one emerges and even prevalent in Indonesia.