Technology has its pros and cons. Whether the use of technology is healthy or not is quite a conflicting topic.
If we talk about the role played by technology in fighting against HIV and AIDs, it has been quite a positive one in many countries. In Pakistan though, technology has increased HIV infection in youngsters instead of diminishing it. This is warned by health experts.
Technology via mobile apps has opened doors for interactions and sexual encounter, especially between gay men. We can ignore this by labeling it the freedom to live life as you like, but can we close our eyes on health issues and risks spreading because of such interactions.
In Pakistan, HIV rates have jumped up drastically in last 10 years. In 2005 there were 8360 Pakistanis living with HIV, in 2015 the number has increased to 46000. This is a 17.6% yearly increase. Globally the annual increase in HIV is 2.2%.
Sophia Furqan, a senior programme officer with the National Aids Control Programme in Pakistan said, “In Pakistan, there has been a rise in HIV among boys and men, due to easy access to male dating apps, because of advancement in technology, and availability of inexpensive gadgets.”
Furqan took a survey of HIV infections in Pakistan. 39% of participants said that their sexual partners were using mobile apps.
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In many developing nations, the HIV virus is easier to detect and thus gets treated. In Pakistan, homosexuality is taboo. Thus information and awareness on the topic are not spread that easily.
Yasir worked as a sex worker to support his family. He had no awareness about HIV. It was after 4 years that he learned about it via an Indian show.
Yasir said, “As soon as I became aware that there was such a disease, I rushed to the clinic to get tested.”
At that time it was too late. He is now living with HIV for 3 years.
He further said, “If I had known about HIV earlier, I would have used condoms.”
Furqan said that people don’t talk about homosexuality in Pakistan. Schools in Pakistan don’t provide children with sex education. Thus only 8.6% men involved in sexual relationships in Pakistan use condoms as per a survey.
In short, in Pakistan, technology, dating apps and social media has increased HIV cases instead of reducing them.