Dec 19, 2008

World - Malaysia makes pre-marriage HIV screening test mandatory

Alarmed by rising cases of HIV in the country, Malaysia on Thursday made it compulsory for all Malaysian Muslims intending to get married to undergo a Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) screening beginning next year.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who chaired a Cabinet meeting on AIDS, said the screening will be made part of pre-marriage courses. The decision was taken to reduce HIV infections, especially among women, which statistics show, is increasing.

"Cumulatively, there are 83,527 HIV cases so far and of this, 14,317 are AIDS cases of which 12,425 people have died," he said, adding that AIDS still posed a serious threat to the country.

However, he noted that the country's HIV infection rate has dropped by half over the past five years. There are only 3452 cases this year compared to 6756 in 2003, media reports said.

The deputy premier said more concerted and focused efforts has contributed to the drop in the number of HIV infections annually. Among the major contributors was the Harm Reduction Programme which will be continued to achieve the government's goal of 11 cases per 100,000 population by 2015 compared with 12.8 cases per 100,000 population now, he said.

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