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Eight new HIV cases daily

[ Back to News Page ] Dated: 29-Nov-2023

Rise in infections may derail goal of ending AIDS by 2023

AN average of eight people contract Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) a day in the country, says Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa (pic).

She said that the continued prevalence of new infections could derail the nation’s goal of ending AIDS by 2030.

“In general, Malaysia has succeeded in lowering new infections by up to 50% between 2000 and 2009. Nevertheless, the rate of decrease in infections is slowing down to 24% between 2010 and 2022.

“On average, a total of 3,000 new HIV cases are reported annually and this is a threat to Malaysia’s ability in its commitment to end AIDS by 2030,” she said in a parliamentary-written reply to Muhammad Ismi Mat Taib (PN-Parit) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Muhammad wanted to know what were the measures taken to curb the spread of HIV.

Dr Zaliha said the main risk of infections during the early years of the AIDS epidemic was through the sharing of hypodermic needles among drug addicts.

However, beginning 2011, she said sexual transmission of the virus was the main risk reported.

Dr Zaliha said in 2022, a total of 60% of HIV infections was due to sexual relations.

She added that those between the age of 20 and 39 make up the highest number with 77% and over 90% were males.

Dr Zaliha said that beginning this year, the ministry has embarked on a pilot project “PrEPGov2023” at 18 health clinics between January and December.

She said the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication is given as a preventive measure.

She said that scientific studies have shown it prevents sexual transmission of HIV by up to 99%.

Other steps being taken, she said, were through an increase in awareness on preventing the spread of the virus among youths.

This includes avoiding high-risk activities, periodic screening and early antiretroviral (ART) treatment if infected.

She said the ministry also has the Prostar module to increase awareness among youths on HIV, adding it was streamlined last year.

Dr Zaliha added the ministry is working closely with NGOs and community health workers to provide counselling and support to high-risk groups.

She said parents play an important role in guiding the young to lead a more healthy lifestyle.