India's health minister ruffled feathers yesterday at an HIV/AIDS conference when he referred to homosexuality as a "disease" that came from the West. "Unfortunately this disease has come to our country, too ... where a man has sex with another man, which is completely unnatural and should not happen, but does," said Ghulam Nabi Azad. There was no immediate response from the government, but activists were outraged, the AP reports.
"These comments help no cause. It's definitely not going to help in our fight against HIV," one activist says. Among Asian countries, India has the largest number of people—2.5 million—living with the virus. Experts say that HIV/AIDS awareness messages are hard to get to gay people there because they are marginalized and isolated, and activists are concerned that Azad's comment sets back recent progress in the fight for gay rights. (Read more India stories.)