YOUR report on “Pre-Marital HIV tests for Muslims” (The Star, Oct 7) is extremely disturbing. This is yet another blatant disregard for the human rights of the individual. It is also another case of big brother gone mad.

Have the authorities who decided to implement and enforce this ruling thought about the long-term consequences of their actions?

This ruling is only going to cause much panic, mayhem and distress. Even if the authorities were to be given the benefit of the doubt and even if we were to consider that their intentions are well-meaning, the repercussions are serious and far-reaching.

Trust, love and respect will all fly out of the window once it is discovered that a potential suitor is infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.

The normal, ignorant, ill-informed human response to the person who has the HIV/AIDS virus is to treat that infected person with fear, loathing or derision, or all three.

An apathetic Malaysian public is also probably not aware that HIV cannot be spread through normal human contact. Transmission of the virus is through bodily fluids.

Nevertheless, the future of many will be shattered, relationships disintegrated and trust terminated through this shocking discovery. In its place will triumph suspicion and insincerity.

The noble person who may wish to proceed with the marriage plans may have no choice but to abandon his/her plans through parental and family pressure. The social stigma is a surety.

Have the authorities considered the ramifications for the infected person who has contracted HIV through a blood transfusion?

Is his/her rejection by the community to be treated on a lesser scale than the person who contracted AIDS through drug taking or via illicit sexual activities?

Our Malaysian public is not as forgiving as a more knowledgeable western community. Anyone or anything associated with the infected person will be ostracised.

That person will be a social pariah for the rest of his or her life. Any children associated with that person will suffer exclusion at school and in the playground. Work colleagues will not want to be closely associated with their infected workmate. Job offers may suddenly dry up. Even hospitalisation may bring objections from other patients.

No one profession, not even exalted religious figures, can simply step into the shoes of a counsellor and start imparting advice pertaining to something as serious as this. Only a trained counsellor or a medical practitioner, both with years of experience, can dispense such counselling advice.

The only service that the religious person can do is offer spiritual guidance and moral support for the infected person. Having HIV/AIDS is a terminal illness.

Again, I fear that this action is another divisive act. Why should Malays and Muslims only be subjected to such extreme measures? Why the segregation? There are enough reasons for our society to be fragmented. We do not need another.

Finally, the HIV test is not cheap and it is a lengthy procedure. It is not instantaneous like pregnancy testing nor painless like a blood pressure check. Although the test may be offered free to Muslims, the cost must ultimately be derived from somewhere.

I therefore urge the Jakim director-general, Datuk Wan Mohamad to reconsider and utilise the money that would have been spent on these HIV tests on educating children on HIV/AIDS illness.

We can do it by teaching young people about the dangers of contracting AIDS, by introducing in schools and colleges proper and mature sex education lessons, by spreading the word that protected sex will reduce the spread of the HIV virus, by distributing condoms at family planning clinics and massage parlours, by informing the public that having unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners is risky and that the reuse of needles for drug takers is potentially lethal.


(Articles from The Star Newspaper, Malaysia – Wed Oct 8, 2008)

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