Compulsory HiV Screening for Muslim Couples from 2K9

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak said the HIV screening would be a part of the pre-marital course for Muslims.

He said the measure was in line with the government’s objective to reduce the incidence of HIV infection among women, which was on the rise.

“This year, we shall (NOT will) make it mandatory for all states to impose the HIV screening as part of the pre-marital course,” he said after chairing a meeting of the cabinet committee on AIDS at Parliament.

Such HIV screening is already mandatory in Johor, Kelantan, Negri Sembilan, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor.

Johor was the first to introduce screening in 2001.

In October, Department for Islamic Development of Malaysia (Jakim) director-general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz announced compulsory HIV testing for Muslim couples wanting to get married.

Wan Mohamad had said couples who tested positive would be allowed to get married but would be counselled on preventive measures.

On the number of HIV/AIDS cases, Najib said it had been halved since 2003 because of concerted efforts and programmes implemented under the National Strategic Plan on AIDS.

He said there were 6,756 new HIV/AIDS cases in 2003 but the number dropped to 3,452 this year.

“This means through our efforts, the number of HIV/AIDS cases has been reduced by 50 per cent since 2003.”

He said the introduction of the harm-reduction programme by the Health Ministry in 2005, which involved a needle and syringe exchange programme and the metha-done maintenance treatment programme, helped to bring infections down.

Najib said the harm-reduction programme should be expanded and strengthened as the government aimed to reduce HIV/AIDS to 11 cases for every 100,000 population by 2015, from the current 12.8 cases.

Najib said the country’s efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS had received recognition from abroad.

He said the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS had noted that Malaysia had moved from “low political will” to “high political will” in fighting the disease.

However, he expressed his concern over the high number of women infected with HIV.

He said in 1990, women only constituted 1.1 per cent of those who had HIV, but the rate shot up to 16.3 per cent last year.

“We have successfully reduced the number of cases among drug users but transmission through sexual activities had increased.”

[Source : nstonline]

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Compulsory HiV Screening for Muslim Couples from 2K9

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