Indonesian minister says second-hand clothes could spread HIV
Indonesia’s trade minister sparked anger on Wednesday (Feb 4) after saying that second-hand clothes could spread human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
He came up with this statement as as he campaigned to stop the import of used garments.
Mr Rachmat Gobel was quoted in local media as saying that used clothes could cause “skin diseases, HIV. It is true, we have seen a lab result”.
Indonesian officials have expressed alarm at what they say is a flood of cheap, second-hand clothing flooding the country.
They say it is damaging the local textile industry.
Mr Gobel quickly apologised after his comments were widely reported, posting on Twitter he had meant to say that “wearing used clothes can transmit many kinds of diseases”.
But this did little to calm the public’s anger, with Twitter user Siwiestu saying that it was “such a shame that a highly educated man... still misunderstands HIV”.
“Oh dear, did the minister go to school?” commented Siti Umayah, adding: “His statement is embarrassing”.
Mr Gobel, a wealthy businessman, has been trade minister since October in the new government of President Joko Widodo.