Iran discloses number of HIV-infected citizens

A top official of Iran's Health Ministry said that the country has registered 18,320 Iranians infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The official, Abbas Sedaqat, said that 69 percent of those infected were drug addicts who had used contaminated needles. He said that about 30 percent contracted the virus through "illegal sexual relations" - meaning through sexual contact with prostitutes. Sedaqat's comments Monday are a rare admission by authorities that contacts with prostitutes have been partially responsible for AIDS in Iran. The conservative Shi'ite country seldom discloses data about AIDS. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied the existence of homosexuals in Iran.