Malaysia may have 300,000 people affected by HIV by 2015, said Datuk Dr. Hassan Abdul Rahman, the Director of the Disease Control Divison of the Health Ministry.

To combat this epidemic, the Government has committed RM500mil to implement the National Strategic Plan on AIDS and the Harm Reduction programme between 2006 and 2010, he said at the launch of a Health Ministry and Unicef Report 2008 entitled Women and Girls Confronting HIV and AIDS in Malaysia yesterday.

The report was released in conjunction with the Special World AIDS Day 2008.

The National Strategic Plan on AIDS involves various government and non-government bodies as well as international agencies such as Unicef.

The daughter of the Sultan of Kedah, Datuk Seri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz, who launched the event, said the trend of new HIV infections occurring among women in the country had risen alarmingly from 1.2% of total new cases in 1990 to 16% in December 2007.

She said reducing the impact of HIV required that the needs and issues of women be addressed at various levels.

She said there was a need to reverse the underlying socio-economic factors that contributed to women’s HIV risks, such as gender inequality, poverty, lack of economic and educational opportunity, and the lack of legal and human rights protection.

The Star, Friday, 05/12/2008

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