Algeria has 468 cases of AIDS and 997 people carrying the HIV virus, according to official figures published on Saturday, but doctors and an opinion poll suggested that these were low estimates.
The National Reference Laboratory issued the official figures, noting that men in the 20-49 group were the most affected, with 335 AIDS/HIV cases.
However, a poll carried out by the Foundation for Health Promotion indicated that 51 percent of young people asked were badly informed about AIDS or knew nothing about the disease and how it is transmitted.
The basis of the poll research was not given, but the foundation noted that AIDS is considered "shameful and linked to debauchery" in the north African country of some 29 million people.
Doctors consider that the official figures fall far short of the truth while some Muslim imams, or prayer leaders, have presented the disease as divine punishment for "fornication".
AIDS is rarely raised as a subject on television and the official press while there are no advertisements for condoms. Fundamentalist Muslims argue that publicity on AIDS is an incitement to debauchery.
The authorities have frequently issued statements that the number of people living with AIDS is low in Algeria, but also expressed concern about risks in the southern desert regions, close to other African countries – ALGIERS (AFP)
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