IN response to the letter “Say no to premarital HIV test” (The Star, Oct 8), I would like to strongly disagree with the writer by saying that it is not a blatant disregard for human rights by making mandatory premarital HIV test.

A violation of human rights in this case would be if these results were used for reasons other than the betterment of the HIV epidemic which is on the rise in our country.

There is concern in the long term that this ruling would cause distress and panic.

Above the feared anxiety, I believe there are things of greater importance such as our next generation and the future of our nation.

Mandatory HIV testing can lead to a decrease in the spread of the HIV virus, an increase in the awareness of one’s health and sparing of innocent lives.

As high as 90 % of people infected with HIV are not aware they are infected with the virus. Being aware of your health condition gives you a chance to medicate yourself.

An AIDS patient under proper medication is able to live a normal and healthy life and in most cases, even an average lifespan.

Which one would you choose: distressed bride and groom who die young and infect their children or distressed bride and groom who live a healthy and normal life? I think the response is obvious.

It is not denied that there is still a huge stigma on persons living with HIV/AIDS. Our job is to fight this stigma, not try to hide it.

According to the writer, trust, love, and respect would go out the window if it is discovered that the potential suitor is infected with HIV.

Let me ask you something. Can and would you trust, love and respect someone who hides the truth from you? Only 52% of people infected with HIV in developing countries tell their partners about their condition.

In Malaysia, a total of 2,800 housewives have been infected with HIV by their husbands since the year 1986. Abandoning your infected partner may seem like the only choice but if you do really love, trust and respect each other, there are always other alternatives to work out a marriage.

Adopting children and practising safe sex is an option.

On the question of whether the authorities have considered people infected with HIV through blood transfusion, it should be noted that the purpose of this mandatory ruling is not to punish the victim.

No matter what the mode of transfusion may be, the ruling is there to stop the spread of HIV. Worries of rejection by society is understandable.

An important piece of information that should be taken into consideration is that results of these HIV tests are confidential.

Nobody needs to know if you don’t want them to. Work should not be affected because mandatory HIV screening in job applications are illegal in our country. There should also be no worries regarding objections from other patients in hospitals because they have a special infectious disease unit in all hospitals.

Referring to worries about children and what they might face, the whole purpose of the mandatory screening is to stop the spread of HIV to our future generation.

I also strongly agree with the writer that such measures should not cover only Mus­lims. Why the segregation? All races should be subjected to such measures. It is not a punishment, it is a blessing.

KATRINA AROKIAM, Kuala Lumpur.

(Articles From The Star Newspaper, Malaysia – 10 Oct 2008)

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