Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 21, 2007

Harder to prevent HIV spread

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:21 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Preventing the spread of HIV in Malaysia may have hit a snag with the Health Ministry being unable to openly promote the use of condoms.
Health Ministry deputy director of disease control (AIDS/STD) Dr Jalal Halil Khalil said this could lead to prevention programmes being less effective.
“It may slow down the effectiveness of prevention. It is difficult to promote the open usage of condoms,” he said after attending a Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) International AIDS Memorial Day function.
“The ministry likes to promote it but not openly. We let the NGOs (non-governmental organisations) do the work. It is not to say that we advertise the use of condoms on TV but we use different ways of communicating it or else people will think we are promoting promiscuity.”
As of December 2006, there were 76,000 HIV/AIDS cases in Malaysia with more than 6,000 new cases diagnosed last year.
The main method of HIV transmission in the country is still through the sharing of needles, which accounts for 75% of the cases.
There is, however, an increase of infection through heterosexual relationships where the number of women infected with HIV has increased 10 times from 1.2% in 1990 to 12% in 2005.
Dr Jalal Halil said that while Malaysians were aware of AIDS and how to prevent it from spreading, the knowledge had yet to translate into action.
MAC president Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said that while the Government wanted to work with NGOs on condom usage, there were still “difficult laws” in which marginalised groups who worked in brothels could be charged under anti-vice laws if they were found with condoms.
She said that when it came to the general public, the question was not only about condoms but that individuals did not realise the high risk of having casual sex.
“When we ask, most people are more conscious about condoms preventing pregnancies rather than HIV.”

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