KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 – The Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) said it is fighting stigma against HIV and AIDS among health care providers who refuse to treat the disease.
MAF chairwoman Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman told Free Malaysia Today that doctors in private practice especially still needed education about HIV/ AIDS.
“We have done studies. We’ve confirmed the stigma is still rife among medical students and doctors.
“However, we have introduced a programme called HIV Connect to train doctors on antiretroviral treatment and the response has been good,” Dr Adeeba was quoted saying.
She also reportedly said there was no need to advertise condoms to protect against HIV/ AIDS because of available medicine to prevent the infection, such as PrEP.
“People who have high risk can take a pill before a ‘high risk’ act and it has been proven to reduce your chance of getting the HIV virus.
“So, there is no need to do the kind of campaigning we did in the 1990s. Because we have the technology, we can reach out to people who are at risk,” Dr Adeeba said.
She reportedly estimated that 40 percent of people living with HIV have not sought medical treatment, as she expressed fears that Malaysia may not meet the global goal of ending AIDS by 2030.
“This is because they fear treatment or they feel ashamed. Others are drug users and are in prison.
“We need to encourage people to be tested. One way is community testing and the other is self-testing and peer-to-peer testing,” she said.
Dr Adeeba further urged the government to decriminalise certain drugs and to quit jailing people for using drugs.
“How do you reach out to those in prison? While there is mandatory testing in prison, the access to care and antiretroviral therapy is not very good.”