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Mandatory HIV testing not the solution: MAC

KUALA LUMPUR, 23 Dec 2008: The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) says that mandatory premarital HIV testing for Muslim couples is not the solution to the increase in contraction of the disease among women.

MAC president, Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, said a once-off life time test did not guarantee that an individual or his or her partner would remain negative if he or she continued to put themselves at risk of HIV through sexual activities or injecting drugs.

“A negative HIV test result at the time of marriage may lead to a false sense of security in both parties throughout the marriage.

“Mandatory HIV testing has been shown to have limited impact in controlling the spread of HIV infection without specific interventions being undertaken to prevent transmissions of these infections,” Adeeba said in a statement today.

She said a similar policy was enforced in the 1990s on drug users incarcerated in Pusat Serenti and prisons and despite the millions in costs there continued to be large number of drug users being infected with HIV through the years.

As such, she said, mandatory HIV testing was not the solution but rather there must be greater focus on other programmes that were proven to be effective in stemming the spread of HIV.

“This includes providing accurate information on HIV, education and promotion of condom use for sex workers and their clients and men-who-have-sex with men,” said Adeeba.

She also said it was highly unlikely that the confidentiality of the test results could be guaranteed.

“Because of the high level of stigma and discrimination that exists against HIV positive individuals, those diagnosed with HIV and their families are frequently rejected and ostracised within the community they live in leading to considerable amount of pain and suffering,” she said.

Adeeba said one of the best steps to reduce infection among women was to control HIV infection among drug-injecting men

“What is urgently needed is a much wider coverage of the current methadone maintenance therapy and needle exchange programmes than is currently being achieved,” she said.

She said based on a study, some women, despite knowing their men were drug users or even HIV positive, were unable to negotiate for safer sex through condom use with their partners. — Bernama


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