Malaysian State To Implement Pre-Marriage Course, HIV Testing Requirement
Beginning next year, Muslim couples in the Malaysian state of Sabah planning to get married will be required to attend a pre-marriage course and undergo HIV screening, Sabah State Islamic Religious Affairs Department Director Amri Suratman said recently, the Bernama Daily Malaysian News reports. According to Amri, the Sabah State Islamic Religious Council will consider the new regulations, which are likely to be announced as early as January 2009.
Amri said the HIV screening is not intended to prevent HIV-positive individuals from getting married but to ensure that couples are aware of the risks involved. Such couples will be provided with counseling, and the testing will be available at no cost at any government health clinic. Currently, couples can choose to not attend the course and undergo testing.
"We want to make the pre-marriage course compulsory because according to statistics in Sabah, about 10% of married couples have applied for divorce," Amri said, adding, "One of the reasons is that they were not exposed to the responsibilities as husband or wife before getting married and their roles as parents" (Bernama Daily Malaysian News, 11/6).