Muslims planning to marry will have to undergo mandatory HIV screening from next year.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was worrying that HIV infection among Malaysian women had increased from 1.1% in 1990, to 5.02% in 1997 and to 16.3% last year.
“Traditionally, HIV infections are due to sharing of needles among drug addicts. However, increasingly, transmission is through active sexual relations,” he added.
Najib said the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS acknowledged the “high-political will” of the Malaysian Government in battling the scourge.
“This is a good indicator of the international body’s acknowledgement of our efforts against the spread of HIV/AIDS,” he added.
The Islamic Development Department had also been asked to go down to the ground to counsel drug addicts.
Speaking to reporters after chairing a Cabinet committee meeting on AIDS with Health Ministry officials at Parliament House yesterday, Najib said that the Government’s efforts to reduce HIV cases were showing positive results.
“HIV cases had dropped by 50% from 6,756 in 2003 to 3,552 so far this year, due to the coordinated running of various programmes,” he noted.
“The biggest factor in the reduction of HIV cases is the harm reduction, methadone replacement therapy and needle-exchange programmes.
“As a result, we have decided to widen these programmes and give more focus on high-risk groups. In addition, the Malaysian AIDS Council will be made a member of the Cabinet committee on AIDS,” Najib said.
“We hope to reduce AIDS infection cases from 12.8 per 100,000 to 11 by 2015.”
He added that more funds would be provided to finance the methadone replacement and harm reduction programmes.
States that already have started mandatory HIV testing are Selangor, Kelantan, Terengganu, Perak, Johor, Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan while Sarawak has yet to implement it.
Pahang and Sabah have made the testing optional.