Sarawak AIDS Concern Society against compulsory HIV testing

Health. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, Dec 21: Sarawak AIDS Concern Society (SACS) today “strongly objects” to the federal government’s proposal for non-Muslim couples to be subjected to compulsory HIV pre-marital testing.

SACS’ stand on this issue echoes that of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) after Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail made the proposal.

In a statement, SACS president Dr Yuwana Podin emphasised that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS do not support compulsory screening of individuals for HIV, too.

“In screening a person for HIV, one’s personal choice must be respected while adhering to ethical and human rights principles.

“Compulsory HIV screenings will not provide long-term solutions in addressing the increase of HIV cases in this country. The negative results from a screening test will provide a false sense of security that a person will never get infected by HIV after marriage.

“The risk of getting infected will still exist if one continues to be involved in high-risk activities associated with HIV transmission after screening,” said Dr Yuwana.

She added that instead of making HIV testing compulsory, Malaysians should be encouraged to get tested on a voluntary basis, complete with pre- and post-testing counselling.

Meanwhile, Dr Yuwana said SACS would continue to support the voluntary testing and counselling (VCT) programme and to work closely with the Health Ministry or any other agency as part of its commitment in battling HIV transmissions in this country.

SACS is a non-profit organisation based in Sarawak. It conducts advocacy work on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in addition to providing support for people living with HIV. A partner of MAC, the society was formed on May 19, 1998.

Sarawak AIDS Concern Society can be reached at Tel/Fax: 082-233173 or email: — DayakDaily