Sunday, 22 October 2017

"Rainbow Tram" to run in Prague warning of HIV risk

ČTK |
10 August 2017

Prague, Aug 9 (CTK) - A tram with rainbow flags will run through the centre of Prague to warn of the HIV and AIDS danger within the Prague Pride festival of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community this afternoon, its organisers have said.

The tram crew will inform passengers about the possibility of protection against sexually transmittable diseases and distribute condoms among them from 14:00 till 18:00.

The crew will include members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence international organisation focused on the fight against AIDS.

The HIV incidence has been monitored in the Czech Republic (part of Czechoslovakia until 1993) since 1985. Until June, the National Referential Laboratory for AIDS of the State Health Institute has registered 3041 HIV-positive people. Full-blown AIDS was registered in 566 people and 269 have died of it.

The number of people infected with HIV has been rising in the past few years. Men who have sex with other men prevail among them.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI) or the Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI) is an international charity organisation that was established by a group of gay men in San Francisco, USA, in 1979. They started wearing the religious habit of nun. The order members use drag, a distinctive makeup and religious imagery to draw attention to sexual intolerance and they satirise the issues of gender and morality in their street performances.

The international order was presented in the Czech Republic for the first time at Prague Pride in 2013. Its Czech branch was established then.

The order says in its statutes that its mission is to spread joy and fight against stigmatising people with HIV and AIDS.

In the first half of this year, 135 new cases of HIV infection were registered in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million. Last year, it was 286, which has been the highest annual figure. In 2015, doctors registered 264 new HIV patients.

The numbers of new HIV-positive people were oscillating in the 1980s and 1990s, amounting to some 60. However, since 2003, the number of HIV patients has been rising steeply.

According to experts, the rise is caused not only by a loose sexual behaviour and the opening of various clubs offering erotic services, but also by the fact that people are losing fear of the illness.

HIV patients can live much longer than in the past thanks to a modern treatment. Consequently, people have stopped using protective means.

However, experts warn that AIDS is still a fatal disease and the HIV virus can cut the life of the infected people considerably. Moreover, its treatment has unpleasant side effects.

hol/dr/ms

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