Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 2, 2007

Malaysia set to meet UN targets on HIV/AIDS

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:25 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is poised to achieve the “Millennium Goal” set by the United Nations of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and reducing infant and mother mortality by the end of the decade, the deputy prime minister said.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the expansion of “harm reduction” programmes to more than 25,000 drug users by the Health Ministry and related government agencies would enable Malaysia to achieve the UN targets in respect of HIV/AIDS infection.
“A total of 76,386 people infected with HIV/AIDS were detected by the end of last year.
“Taking into consideration our plans to expand the use of methadone, the needle exchange programme and anti-retroviral treatment in prisons among drug users, it is projected that either by 2009 or 2010, we should be able to see positive results and meet the UN’s targets.”
The government’s plans to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS had obtained support from the relevant departments and agencies, Najib said after chairing the cabinet committee on AIDS at his office yesterday.
Present were Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican.
However, the number of HIV cases continued to show an increase whereby infections through sexual contact had risen from 15.9 per cent of the total (5,800 people) in 2000 to 31.9 per cent last year, while the number of women infected with AIDS increased from 9.4 per cent in 2002 to 15 per cent last year.
HIV screenings conducted last year showed the number of infections at Pusat Serenti (drug rehabilitation) centres stood at 15.6 per cent of the total; 5.3 per cent were in prisons and tuberculosis patients made up 8.9 per cent. Tests in pre-marital courses detected 0.13 per cent and pregnant mothers constituted 0.03 per cent of the total.
The use of methadone for drug addicts had shown positive results, Najib said.
“After 12 months of methadone replacement therapy, 66 per cent have obtained full-time jobs while 24.9 per cent are doing odd jobs. This shows how effective and successful this programme has been.”
The committee has decided to expand the methodone programme to cover 25,000 people by 2010.
“Our target for this year is 5,000 people at 58 places (25 hospitals, 26 health clinics and seven private clinics). The committee has decided that this programme as well as the needle or syringe exchange programme be expanded to cover more drug addicts to reduce HIV/AIDS infection.”
The committee also decided that anti-retroviral treatment for prisoners now being carried out on a pilot-project basis at Kajang Prison be expanded to include other prisons which had medical officers and the required facilities.
The programme would also be conducted at all drug rehabilitation centres.
This year, the government has set aside RM14.4 million for methadone-replacement therapy and RM7 million for the needle exchange programme.
Recently, Chua said the government had set aside RM300 million to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the next three years.
The money, to be spent for harm-reduction programmes, will involve more than 20,000 intravenous drug users.
Harm-reduction involves a combination of drug substitution therapy, use of methadone and needle and syringe exchange and condom programmes.
Chua had said the harm-reduction pilot programme introduced in 2005 involving some 1,300 intravenous drug users in Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang saw 80 per cent of them kick the habit and switch to methadone.

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