AIDS is a politically and morally sensitive issue. AIDS is sexually transmitted, and so carries a moral stigma which makes it difficult to speak about the problem. In 1997, 15 years into the epidemic, AIDS is still hushed up and not even all doctors dare to talk openly to their patients. It is even more taboo in many Muslim countries, since infidelity and homosexuality are punishable according to the Koran. While religious charity organizations do a great deal to help those who have already fallen ill with AIDS, they do little to help prevent it.
While other epidemics have primarily struck down the old and the weak, AIDS is contracted by the healthy and strong, who are often also the well-educated. This makes it an insidious threat to the very fabric of society. The far-reaching consequences strike deep into the heart of a country's economic and social structure.