MOH To Provide HIV Drug PrEP In All Klinik Kesihatan

MOH plans to provide HIV prevention drug PrEP at all public health clinics nationwide. A prelim report shows over 3,000 people accessed PrEP in the pilot phase of the programme; among those who completed 6 months, the HIV transmission rate was only 0.2%.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) plans to scale up availability of fully subsidised pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a HIV prevention drug, to all public health clinics nationwide.

MOH disease control division director Dr Anita Suleiman said the ministry plans to fully take over the HIV prevention programme after two years of assistance from The Global Fund, as preliminary results from the PrEP pilot programme were encouraging.

The HIV prevention programme providing PrEP, an oral medicine that prevents HIV infection from sex or injection drug use, has been running under the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC), in collaboration with the MOH, and is funded by The Global Fund.

Dr Anita said a yet-to-be published preliminary report on the first year of the PrEP pilot programme showed that over 3,000 clients accessed the programme in its first 12 months. Among those who received PrEP and completed six months of dispensing, the HIV transmission rate was only 0.2 per cent.

“This means that we successfully prevented HIV in 99.8 per cent of high-risk individuals. This shows that PrEP is very effective.

“Overseas, PrEP has proven to be 99 per cent effective. In Malaysia, we also achieved 99 per cent effectiveness, provided clients adhere to the regime, continue consultations, and receive proper education,” Dr Anita told reporters at an open house event by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) and MAC here yesterday.

A full report on the PrEP pilot programme is expected to be released next month.

Since the inception of the programme in January 2023, MOH has progressively expanded the availability of PrEP from 18 public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan) during the pilot phase to 21 clinics. The MOH aims to make PrEP available in 30 clinics this year.

Dr Anita highlighted the need to “intensify” and “continue” existing efforts so that people can eventually “pop into” any public health clinic and get PrEP for free.

“Hopefully, in two years’ time, in 2025 or 2026, when I visit a public health clinic and ask if I can get PrEP, it will be available in all public health clinics under MOH,” Dr Anita said during her speech at the same event.

Since the first HIV case was reported in Malaysia in 1986, the country has reduced HIV infections by more than 50 per cent. However, cases have stagnated over the past decade as transmission shifted from largely affecting people who inject drugs to sexual transmissions.

Dr Anita said that to further reduce cases, new methods and approaches based on scientific evidence, like PrEP, need to be explored.

“I urge everyone to dispel misconceptions about PrEP because there are many false beliefs within the community, including within the MOH itself. We all need to correct these misunderstandings.

“Making PrEP available does not mean we encourage risky activities. PrEP is a platform for us to engage with key populations, raise awareness, and reduce risk,” Dr Anita said.

She added that Malaysia’s HIV prevention model using PrEP is different from methods used in Western countries.

“In Malaysia, MOH provides risk management counselling where we emphasise the importance of ABCD. We first tell our clients that the best way is still abstinence – you won’t get HIV or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“But if you can’t abstain, then be faithful. Reduce the risk by being with the same partner whose status you are aware of. If you can’t be faithful to one partner, then use a condom all the time.

“But if you’re also using drugs and can’t ensure that condoms are effective, take PrEP. PrEP is actually the last preventive step. We don’t just give PrEP away when they visit public health clinics. We provide risk management counselling, expose them to ABCD, and then allow the clients to make their own decisions.

“PrEP is a short-term preventive option, not long-term,” Dr Anita said.

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