Malaysia Expected To Achieve Millennium Development Goals on HIV/AIDS, Deputy PM Says
Malaysia is on track to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals on curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS by the end of the decade, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Malaysia's New Straits Times reports. According to Razak, based on the country's plan to expand "harm reduction" programs to 25,000 injection drug users, it is "projected that either by 2009 or 2010" the country should see "positive results" and achieve the MDGs. The government's harm reduction program includes methadone treatment, needle-exchange programs and access to antiretroviral treatment in prisons, Razak said (New Straits Times, 10/2).
There are about 75,000 HIV-positive people living in Malaysia, 70% of whom are IDUs. The government has said that transmission through heterosexual sex is increasing and has noted a trend of increasing HIV incidence among women in the country. Current efforts to combat the spread of the disease have targeted IDUs, commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/22).
According to the Times, the government this year has allocated 14.4 million Malaysian ringgit, or about $4.2 million, for methadone treatment programs and seven million ringgit, or about $2 million, for needle-exchange programs (New Straits Times, 10/2). The government plans to increase the number of people receiving methadone treatment under the program from 5,000 to 25,000 by 2010, Razak said. He added that the program has enabled 66% of HIV-positive IDUs to maintain permanent jobs and about 25% to do general work after one year of treatment (Xinhua/People's Daily, 10/2).
Health Minister Chua Soi Lek recently said that the government has set aside 300 million ringgit, or about $88 million, to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in the next three years (New Straits Times, 10/2).