Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 24, 2004

108539473226108999

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:31 pm

Cleric refuses to bar AIDS victims from marrying

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – An Islamic religious leader has refused to bar some 3,000 Muslims suffering from HIV/AIDS from marrying despite fears that the disease could spread to their offspring, a report said Sunday.

The Malay-language Berita Minggu said a health department officer in central Perak state had approached chief cleric Harussani Zakaria to block the state’s AIDS victims from tying the knot by the end of this year.

But Zakaria told the newspaper that the Islamic department would not reject their marriages because this could encourage the couples to have illicit sex.

“We don’t have the power to stop anyone from marrying even though they could endanger the health of another person,” he said, adding that only the father of a woman who is still a virgin could block the wedding.

State health department officials declined to comment, saying they had to verify reports that 3,000 AIDS sufferers were getting married.

In southern Johor state, the Islamic religious department had in November 2001 introduced pre-nuptial HIV testing for Muslim men before marriage to check the spread of infection, the newspaper said.

Malaysian AIDS Council President Marina Mahathir was quoted by the Sunday Star as saying the AIDS problem was getting more serious, and that Malaysia had 51,256 reported HIV/AIDS victims, including 6,978 new cases.

Activists have cited deep-rooted reticence about discussing sex and a reluctance to admit the existence of a problem as obstacles to Malaysia’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

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