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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

MALAYSIA: Malaysia Pledges Battle Against HIV as UN Says


Agence France Presse (08.23.05) - Wednesday, August 24, 2005

In response to UNAIDS estimates that some 81,000 Malaysians have contracted HIV, compared to government figures showing 65,000 infections, Malaysian Health Department Director- General Ismail Merican said Tuesday the nation is focusing on its prevention efforts.

"We have to halt the sexual spread of HIV/AIDS and this can only be done through education," Ismail told the New Straits Times. Malaysia has set up a new surveillance system to monitor its HIV/AIDS epidemic, he said. "We have also sought the cooperation of non-governmental organizations to reach out to as many people as possible and talk to them about HIV/AIDS and how it can be prevented. We need to see a plateau soon, and then hopefully we will see a decline." A recent survey of Malaysians found that 40 percent believed a beautiful woman could not be HIV-infected. A lack of education about the virus and a deep reluctance to discuss sex or admit the extent of the epidemic have slowed progress against the disease, say AIDS activists.

While 75 percent of HIV-infected Malaysians are intravenous drug users (IDUs), UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia Nafis Sadik told the New Straits Times on Monday that the situation is becoming a "generalized epidemic." She lauded officials there for a plan to provide condoms and clean needles for IDUs, moves that have been attacked by religious critics and those who say it is a waste of public money.


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Information in this article was accurate in August 24, 2005. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.