Bhutan is not exactly crumbling under the weight of HIV infections. Between 1993 and 2006, a total of 90 cases were reported. Each is dilligently listed by the Ministry of Health — age, sex, how they became infected, how their infection came to light, whether they are still alive (19 had died by August 2006). Perhaps that’s because this rather eccentric but extraordinarily organised little country has been quite open about the virus from the start. I remember being at a temple festival some years ago with one of the kingdom’s princesses, cheering on a giant condom in a boxing match against the HIV virus.
Now, Bhutan intends to tackle HIV among drug users in prison, according to a report in the Bhutan Observer. There’s actually no evidence of much drug abuse in prison in Bhutan (unlike in virtually every other country in the region, where prisons are widely known to be HIV factories). But still, it’s great that they are showing willing, after some chivvying at a UNODC-sponsored workshop. Prizes to any reader who can interpret this somewhat cryptic comment from the nation’s Chief of Police:
“I found the recommendations appealing, and if it helps the prisoners, we will implement it. We will have a drug research centre, religious talks and yoga after the coronation.”
(Image stolen from Downward Facing Blog, with thanks)