Third Malaysian State To Require Mandatory HIV Testing for Muslim Couples Wishing To Marry
The northern Malaysian state of Kelantan in January will become the third of 13 states in the country to require HIV testing for Muslim couples who plan to marry, a state Islamic official said on Wednesday, Malaysia's New Straits Times reports. Kelantan State Islamic Development and Propagation Committee Chair Hassan Mohamood said the state government ruled that any Muslim living in Kelantan who wishes to marry must provide evidence of an HIV test before registering for mandatory marriage counseling. If a person tests HIV-positive, the couple would be counseled on the risks and consequences related to HIV/AIDS, Mohamood said, adding, "It is then up to them if they still want to proceed with their marriage." Free HIV testing is available at government-run hospitals, but Mohamood said a small fee might be introduced in the future, according to the New Straits Times (Abdullah, New Straits Times, 5/25). "We will only recognize test results issued by government hospitals and will not entertain tests conducted at private clinics or hospitals," he said, adding, "The government is not in the business of stopping anyone from getting married, but we have to stem the spread of such a disease and ensure that those infected know what they are doing" (Star, 5/26). About 900 new HIV cases were reported in Kelantan in 2004, and 58,012 HIV cases have been reported in Malaysia since the end of 2003, AFP/Khaleej Times reports. The Malaysian states of Johor and Perlis already require HIV testing for Muslim couples wishing to marry (AFP/Khaleej Times, 5/26). Johor in October 2001 became the first state to issue the fatwa, or religious decree, for the mandatory tests (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/31/01).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.