Tehran is in the news for the wrong reasons, witnessing an upsurge in AIDS cases. The reason for this, according to AIDS workers is that many women, just barely twenty years old are offering sex in return for discounted clothes, available at shopping malls. There is an apparent lack of awareness in Iran regarding the infection and the manner of its spread.
When questioned, some of the shopkeepers and salesmen in the Qaam mall in northern Tehran confessed to their escapades with prostitutes. Amir Fathi, head of the Iran Positive Life organization, which has the backing of the UNICEF and the United Nations Children's Fund said, "I do not think that the prostitutes are aware of the AIDS virus. If they are infected, and have sex with three or four salesmen each day, you can imagine the danger. I think that most of the salesmen are aware of the risk but cannot resist temptation."
A country thronged by almost 300,000 prostitutes, most of them barely in their twenties, it is estimated that 11,000 of them in the least are carriers of the AIDS virus. Official data records show that there are 13,074 AIDS patients in Iran, but World Health Organization and the Iranian Ministry of Health believe this is only the tip of the ice berg. The realistic numbers could be between 70,000 and 120,000.
Iran is on the brink of a formal announcement regarding the development of a drug to control AIDS.