New Delhi: A Class X biology textbook in Kerala states that “premarital or extra marital sexual contact” is one of the ways through which the HIV can be transmitted.
The textbook correctly identifies that HIV can be transmitted by sharing a needle or syringe used by AIDS patients, through bodily fluids and from an HIV positive mother to the foetus. However, it specifically identifies only premarital or extramarital sexual contact as a way for the virus to spread, instead of unprotected sex with an HIV positive partner.
A photo of the page was posted on social media by Dr Arun, a practitioner of general medicine in Kerala’s Palakkad district, on Monday.
According to The News Minute, Dr Arun asked, “How does the virus know whether the couple is married or not?” Instead of these terms [premarital and extramarital sex], the textbook should have said that the virus can spread through “unprotected sex” or “unprotected sex with an infected partner”, he said.
The textbook, published by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), is the 2016 edition. The SCERT officials claimed that in the new edition (June 2019), the mistake would be corrected.
“We have identified the mistake and have taken measures to make the necessary changes in the upcoming academic year,” a researcher told The News Minute.
Such false information and serious errors have often been reported in Indian textbooks, especially when it comes to matters of sex education.
In June last year, a Class X Gujarat textbook said “masterbation [masturbation] is one type of copulation”. The textbook also uses the word “menstruation” instead of masturbation, saying, “Menstruation is one non-harmful and safe copulation process through which youngsters are saved from the infection of HIV/AIDS, as well as any sexual diseases.”
Nitin Peethani, the executive president of the Gujarat State Board of School Textbook, had brushed aside the errors, saying errors are inevitable as the board deals with hundreds of textbooks at once. “We will keep rectifying those mistakes,” he said.
India has one of the largest populations of people with HIV. While sex education has been a topic of reluctance for Indian schools, educating children about sexual health and safe sex practices is an effective way of tackling the problem.
Globally, around 37 million people live with with HIV, while the AIDS pandemic has killed around 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s.