Materia Medica Malaysiana

June 30, 2006

HIV: The Rising Fear Factor

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:50 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: It is scary. People who know full well that they are HIV-positive are donating blood. Last year, 124 blood donors were found to be infected with the HIV virus.
And the Government, worried by a projection that there will be 300,000 HIV/AIDS-positive Malaysians by 2015, wants to put a stop to this.
It is proposing mandatory jail for anyone who donates blood knowing he or she has HIV/AIDS.
This is one of the basket of measures the Government plans to introduce to fight the scourge. Another is to make it compulsory for Muslim couples to undergo an AIDS test before being allowed to marry.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 would be amended to provide for fines and a jail term.
Saying the number of HIV-positive people who donated blood rose from 107 in 2004 to 124 last year, Najib added: “It must be made a crime as there is a prevalence of such incidences. If you knowingly donate blood when you are HIV-positive, you could cause the death of other people. That’s why we are taking it seriously.”
He said this after chairing the first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on HIV/AIDS here. Also present was Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Dr Chua said his ministry would push for a mandatory jail term for the offence.
“Blood donated to hospitals is used to save lives. There are people who know they are HIV-positive and yet they purposely donate their blood.
“There are cases where they cheat while filling forms, saying they are negative. But when we run checks, their record shows that they are HIV carriers. They do it deliberately despite knowing their status,” Dr Chua said, adding that in many countries this had been criminalised.
He said some donors failed to inform the authorities despite being told that they had newly contracted the disease.

Najib also said the Health Ministry and the World Health Organisation had projected that there would be over 300,000 Malaysians with HIV/AIDS by 2015. Currently, the figure stands at 71,676.
He said it was expected that over 6,000 would be infected with AIDS a year, unless effective measures were taken to address the problem.
The Cabinet Committee, he said, decided on several steps to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS.
They include compelling Muslim couples to undergo HIV/AIDS screening prior to marriage.
The Islamic Development Department, Najib said, would be directed to discuss with the state governments on introducing this ruling.
He said initiatives to increase awareness of the disease, including through “shocking messages” were in the pipeline, as were talks to captive audiences such as National Service participants and Friday prayer congregations at mosques.

The government is also working to free drug users of their addiction through better implementation of the methadone substitution therapy.
He said it cost the Government RM5 for every 40 milligramme of methadone. It was now looking at sharing the resources of countries such as Hong Kong, Thailand and Germany which sourced their supply for between RM0.45 and RM2.60.
The methadone substitution therapy, he said, had proven effective. Ninety per cent of 1,200 pilot users of this method were no longer drug dependent, he added.
Najib also said while statistics showed that 70 per cent of HIV/AIDS patients were drug addicts, there was also an alarming increase (22 per cent) in the number of those who contracted the virus through sexual intercourse.
The number of women with HIV/AIDS had grown from 1.2 per cent of the total figure in 1990 to 12 per cent, he said.

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