Inequalities continue to be a barrier to the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic in Malaysia by 2030, says the health ministry.
In a statement released in conjunction with World AIDS Day, the ministry said new HIV/AIDS infections in Malaysia had dropped by 20% in the last 20 years.
Meanwhile, antiretroviral (ARV) medication coverage for patients living with HIV/AIDS rose to 66% in 2021, up from 28% in 2015.
“However, the decrease in these figures is insufficient to declare Malaysia free of the AIDS epidemic as inequalities pose an obstacle to this,” it said.
The ministry said efforts to combat stigma and discrimination will continue so that services for people with HIV/AIDS can be delivered in a more welcoming manner.
It also urged all parties, including NGOs, the private sector, corporate bodies and the public, to continue working together in addressing inequalities related to HIV/AIDS.
“Stigma and discrimination reduction programmes have successfully reduced such behaviour displayed by healthcare personnel towards people living with HIV/AIDS by improving the quality of services at medical facilities.
“This programme was made available at 55 medical facilities across the country in 2022, and there are plans for its expansion to every medical facility in the near future,” it said.
Yesterday, Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said people living with HIV should be accorded economic equality and their status should not hinder employers from hiring them.
Adeeba pointed out that those living with HIV now have a lifespan and level of productivity similar to a normal person, but stigma and discrimination continue to impact their livelihood and create unnecessary barriers to treatment, prevention and care services. – FMT