ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi health authorities on Monday announced they had shut down 14 massage parlors in Baghdad for failing to have official licenses or permits, citing concerns of HIV cases rising in the capital.
Over the past few years, the presence of massage parlors in Baghdad has significantly increased, raising concerns among authorities in Iraq’s capital that sexually transmitted diseases could spread in salons that secretly provide sexual services.
Iraq’s Health Ministry in February reported that of HIV cases had increased to six in Baghdad, with some of them reportedly being foreign nationals. According to officials, most of the infections were contracted at a massage parlor.
Raad Mohammed al-Tai, a health monitor director in Baghdad, in a statement released on Nov. 5 asserted that his department had shut down 14 massage centers in the Karrada area.
He added that those salons were operating in the region “without a license from the health directorate.”
The director also stated the owners of the parlors were told to comply with “the closure [of their establishments] and [the payment of] a fine of IQD 250,000 ($200).”
Massage parlors in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are often viewed as establishments that provide sexual services. Despite the authorities’ efforts to prevent those centers from arising in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, they continue to exist in urban areas.
In 2017, Baghdad alone recorded 27 HIV cases, among them were four foreign citizens.
Kurdistan Region Health Minister, Rekawt Hama-Rashid, in 2017 declared there were no cases of HIV/AIDS registered in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region for that year.
“Over the past 30 years, only 26 cases have been registered among the people of the [Kurdistan] Region, and the virus has claimed the lives of five,” he said in Dec. 2017.
According to the World Health Organization, some 36.7 million people are living with AIDS worldwide.
Editing by Nadia Riva