PETALING JAYA, 16 Dec 2008: The Health Ministry has set up a task force to study and draw up plans to tackle the HIV epidemic among women in the country.
Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the task force would focus on heterosexual HIV infection besides studying the mechanism and strategies recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to educate women on HIV and Aids especially HIV prevention.
He said new HIV infections in women had seen an abrupt increase and made up 16.3 % of all 80,938 cases reported last year.
“The trend is increasingly worrying. I hope my ministry as the coordinator can make plans and the outcome is tabled before me not later than April next year,” he told reporters after launching the national-level World Aids Day here today.
Statistics issued by the ministry also showed that 75% of women HIV patients reported last year were between 30 and 39 years old and 70% of them were infected through heterosexual contact.
Besides, 60% of them were married women and 40% were housewives.
Liow said efforts to educate and create awareness among women would be intensified especially on their rights to ensure they were protected from HIV infection.
He also urged the public to undergo HIV screenings so that early treatment could be administered should they test positive.
“I hope the public will answer the ministry’s call to have them screened to determine their health status. If the test result is HIV positive, the government will provide medical assistance,” he said.
He said the public could undergo the test at any government hospital and clinic. — Bernama
See also: Rising HIV infection among housewives