Materia Medica Malaysiana

June 1, 2008

Malay NGOs urged to help fight AIDS

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:30 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: More Malay non-govermental organisations should come forward and be proactive in the war againsts HIV/AIDS in the country.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said more Malay leaders and public figures should take the lead to spread awareness and promote community dialogues on HIV/AIDS.
“The ministry would like to encourage more people to come forward, especially the Malays,” Dr Latiff said at a press conference at the 25th International AIDS Memorial Day (IAMD) celebrations yesterday
“We need leaders to lead in this fight.
“They may have so much fear of the disease and its surrounding issues, yet about 75 per cent of those infected with HIV/AIDS in this country are Malays.”
Dr Latiff said it was possible Malays do not want to come forward because of the moral issues involved since the groups most at risk were drug users and sex workers.
Many talk about the issue but do not go to the ground to truly understand the situation.
Dr Latiff added that the Malay media should also get involved and report more on HIV/AIDS.
The annual IAMD, also known as the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, is the largest and oldest grassroots mobilisation campaign to enhance HIV/AIDS awareness in the world, according to the Global Health Council which co-ordinates the event worldwide.
The issue of stigma and discrimination was the main theme for the event.
Malaysian AIDS Council president and Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman Professor Dr Adeeba Kamrulzaman said despite the fact that HIV/AIDS was now treatable, those diagnosed with it still feel hopeless because of the stigma associated with it.
However, said the situation was improving, she noted.
A network of people living with HIV was officially formed recently in an effort to reduce the stigma and discrimination, said Dr Adeeba.
“These people have come out in the open about their condition and are willing to share their experiences,” she said in her speech to a crowd of about 1,000 at the One Utama shopping complex.
The IAMD was also open to the public for the first time in Malaysia this year to help reduce the stigma.
In the past, it was held behind closed doors.
Dr Adeeba said although those with HIV/AIDS were now not living under a death sentence, it was still imperative to do all that was possible to prevent HIV/AIDS.
“It is still a disease you do not want to get.”
Dr Adeeba said more women were infected with HIV/AIDS through their husbands who are drug users and indulge in unsafe extra-marital sex.
As of December last year, more than 80,938 HIV cases had been reported in the country.
Of this, more than 13,000 have been diagnosed with AIDS and over 10,000 have died. An average of three people died of AIDS daily in 2007.

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