HIV Cases On The Rise In Malaysia, Says UN Coordinator

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is suffering a setback in achieving the United Nations (UN) Millenium Development Goal (MDG) to eradicate the HIV/AIDS virus, despite being on the right track with its other MDGs.

UN resident coordinator (Malaysia) Kamal Malhotra said the number of HIV-infected people was on the rise, instead of decreasing, after launching the two-day Red Carnival organised by the PT Foundation at Sungei Wang Plaza today.

He said that as of June, this year, the number of HIV-infected people reported since 1986, had reached 82,704.

Malhotra said the country faced a concentrated epidemic with one to five per cent of certain categories having contracted the virus, adding that in line with UN guidelines, it needed to focus its resources on five high-risk categories.

They were drug users, sex workers, transsexuals, male homosexuals and migrant workers, he told a press conference.

According to the United Nations Development Programme Malaysia website, the year 2000 saw five per cent of the total population as having been infected with HIV/AIDS.

In 2006, the number had increased to eight per cent of the total population.

Malhotra believed that one of the best methods to prevent this continuous spread was better education and understanding of the virus itself, which was why he fully supported the Red Carnival.

The Red Carnival, sponsored by CIMB and UN Malaysia and supported by the Health Ministry and Malaysian Aids Council, is aimed at galvanising the Malaysian youth to create awareness of the disease and reduce the stigma and discrimination against HIV-positives. (Bernama)

MySinchew 2008.11.29