KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 – Malaysia reported 2,760 new HIV cases last year at an incidence rate of 8.5 cases per 100,000 population, a 70 per cent drop from 28.5 cases per 100,000 people in 2002 with 6,978 new cases.
The latest figure also represents a decline from 3,146 new HIV cases reported in 2020, or an incidence rate of 9.31 cases per 100,000 population.
Khairy was responding to Setiu MP Shaharizukirnain Abd Kadir, who requested for the latest data on HIV and AIDS patients in Malaysia, as well as the percentage involving patients with HIV and AIDS that engage in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) “lifestyle” and activities. The PAS lawmaker used the term “lifestyle” as opposed to gender or sexual identity.
Khairy said in his March 14 written parliamentary reply that HIV infection via sexual transmission can occur through unprotected sex with an infected person, such as not wearing a condom, irrespective of a person’s sexuality.
As such, the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) HIV data is based on risk factors rather than sexual orientations like LGBTQ.
“In the early stages of the HIV epidemic, the main risk factor for infection was the sharing of needles among drug users. However, from 2011 onwards, sexual transmission became the major risk factor for HIV infections that were reported to the MOH.
“Thus, the risk of infection can be reduced if each partner is loyal to their respective partner,” Khairy said.
In 2021, about 63 per cent of reported HIV cases in Malaysia were linked to homosexual or bisexual relationships, and 33 per cent to heterosexual relationships.
The World Health Assembly stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990. In 2019, a new edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), known as ICD-11, replaced “transsexualism” with “gender incongruence”, defining the latter as a condition related to sexual health instead of a mental and behavioural disorder.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said ICD-11 now acknowledges “links between gender identity, sexual behaviour, exposure to violence and sexually transmitted infections” and that the new gender incongruence classification should ensure transgender people’s access to gender-affirming health care.
ICD is WHO’s global manual of diagnoses that is used by the world for health statistics.
LGBTQ individuals in Malaysia are subject to widespread discrimination and harassment from the authorities. The Guardian reported yesterday that an app endorsed by the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim), which promised to help LGBT people “return to nature”, was pulled from the Google Play store, as the app breached the platform’s policies.