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Last Updated: Monday, 16 July 2007, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
'Promiscuous men' fuel India HIV
Indian HIV positive patient Rimi Sardar (r) and his mother in Calcutta
Officials say most women do not have the power to negotiate safe sex
Indian men cannot be trusted and their promiscuous behaviour is fuelling the country's HIV epidemic, an MP has said.

Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury said Indian women should protect themselves from HIV/Aids by keeping condoms at home.

"Women need to get condoms to protect themselves, let the men be suspicious," she said at an Aids forum for women.

About 2.5m people in India are infected with HIV/Aids - 40% of those are women, UN-backed government figures suggest.

India has the world's third highest case load after South Africa and Nigeria.

Safe sex

Ms Chowdhury addressed the inaugural meeting of the National Women Forum of Indian Network of People Living with HIV/Aids on Monday.

India's HIV prevalence rate is now estimated to be 0.36%
Around 80,000 HIV-positive people receive free drugs
The government plans 250 Aids treatment centres by 2009
It hopes to carry out HIV tests on 42 million people by 2012
Around 40% of women have not heard of Aids
Figures compiled by UNAids and Reuters

"You cannot trust men or your husbands," she said, adding that men may bring the virus home after sleeping with other women.

Officials say many women have become infected after their husbands visited prostitutes and that most women do not have the power to negotiate safe sex with their husbands.

Ms Chowdhury called for a change in mindset and criticised some state governments for refusing to implement sex education.

She suggested that large numbers of new infections were among young people.

"We are so embarrassed to ask about condoms... We are hypocrites. We have a one billion population and don't want to talk about sex."

India announced plans for a $2.8bn (1.4bn) campaign to fight Aids over five years.

It hopes to increase condom use from 2.1bn in 2007 to 3.5bn by 2012.

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