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M’sia should adopt Iran’s HIV prevention methods

KUALA LUMPUR, 1 Dec 2008: Malaysia should adopt the HIV prevention methods of Iran as they have been acknowledged to be successful by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Noriah Kasnon said Iran had managed to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in HIV prevention in a Muslim country which was getting the endorsement of its clergy.

In her opening speech read by the Ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Faizah Mohd Tahir, Noriah said Iran’s AIDS prevention programme had been reported to be among the world’s most progressive programmes.

She said Iran’s harm-reduction programme had also been acclaimed by WHO as one of the most successful.

“The triangular clinic concept which integrates services for treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, injecting drug use and HIV/AIDS is something Malaysia would like to know about,” Noriah said.

Faizah then launched the two-day joint seminar between Malaysia and the Islamic Republic of Iran on Approaches to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care, Treatment and Support, here, today.

Iranian Shahid Behesti Medical University professor Dr Mohammad Esmaeel Akbari said HIV prevention methods taken from the West might not be as efficient in a Muslim country.

“In Islam, we are responsible for ourselves and our society. Stigmatisation and discrimination should not happen in Islamic society because as Muslims we are responsible for all our members.

“The clergy must also play a key role in educating the public on HIV prevention because we should not focus merely on the physical aspects of health but also on the spiritual aspects,” Akbari said in his keynote address.

Pink Triangle Foundation chairman Hisham Hussein said that religious leaders played a key role in preventing HIV and discrimination as they had a strong influence on society through their sermons and advice.

He said although the foundation had advised the public on abstaining from sex outside of marriage and to stick true to moral and religious values, the reality was different.

“We are all human, sometimes we cannot help ourselves. I understand that giving free condoms can be a very sensitive issue with religious leaders. But we are not trying to promote extra marital sex.

“Stopping yourselves from committing the act is the best thing but being human, if you cannot stop yourselves, then practising safe sex is the next best thing,” Hisham said. — Bernama


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