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Putting a 'Cap' on HIV/AIDS in Bali

Low Rates of Condom Use in Contact with Commercial Sex Workers Blamed for Rapid Rise in HIV/AIDS Cases in Bali.

(5/21/2011) Bali Post reports that the spread of HIV/AIDS in Bali is most prevalent through heterosexual contact. Moreover, health authorities estimate that 4,000 customers of sex workers in Bali have contracted HIV/AIDS in 2010, each of whom has the potential of spreading the disease further to wives and their children of their clients/

With such high levels of infection, it is sadly ironic that the rate of condom use among the clients of sex workers in Bali is put at a low 26%. Experts indicate that in order to curb the spread of the disease, the rate of condom use in commercial sex situations should be ideally between 80-90%. Dr. Nyoman Sutedja, the head of Bali's provincial health service told the press, "even in Thailand, the rate of condom use is 80-90% and it is proven that the infection rates for HIV have dropped dramatically."

The rate of HIV/AIDS infections can be reduced through the popularization of condom use, particularly in commercial sex settings. Despite this fact, the use of condoms is still considered taboo by most Balinese. Many see the use of condoms as condoning "free sex" despite growing rates of pregnancy among school-aged girls and the skyrocketing rates of HIV/AIDS infection.

According to Sutedja, Bali once try to popularize condom use by installing an "ATM" machine for the distribution of condoms. Put in place by the government to reduce the level of HIV/AIDS infection, the dispenser was seen by some elements of the community as condoning sex outside of marriage. Sutedja said that the machine that was installed some years ago, however, is now broken.