"HIV/AIDS Blood Donors May Be Jailed"
PUTRAJAYA, June 29 (Bernama) -- The government proposes to impose
mandatory jail sentence besides a fine on HIV/AIDS sufferers who falsify
information on their condition to donate blood. Deputy Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Prevention and Control of Infectious
Diseases Act 1988 would be amended to provide for this. "There have been
several cases of HIV and AIDS sufferers who donated blood. We want to
make it a crime," he told reporters after chairing the meeting of the
Cabinet Committee on AIDS here. "You can kill people by that act. If you
knowingly donate blood when you are HIV+, you could cause the death of
other people. That's why we are taking it seriously," Najib said.
Last year, 643 blood donors were found to be infected with various
viruses, seven of them with HIV/AIDS. And this is the scary picture
painted by Najib if effective measures are not taken to curb HIV/AIDS --
a projected 300,000 Malaysians will contract the disease by 2015. He
said the trend of the disease in Malaysia was most worrisome with about
11,000 HIV/AIDS cases and 8,334 deaths recorded last year. "On average,
6,000 HIV/AIDS cases are reported annually, 70 per cent of them
involving drug addicts," he said. He said the percentage of women
infected with HIV rose 10 times from only 1.2 per cent in 1990 to 12 per
cent last year.
"This trend will rise because the spread of the disease through sex will
rise, so the spread of the disease among women will increase," he said.
Among the measures decided upon today to check the disease is to require
all the states to conduct HIV/AIDS screening on Muslim couples intending
to get married. The states that have not done so are Kedah, Penang,
Negeri Sembilan, Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territories of Kuala
Lumpur and Labuan.
Najib said the important thing was to raise the people's awareness of
the dangers of HIV/AIDS through various channels like the media, talks
and Friday sermons. He also said that the committee agreed that the
supply of methadone should be increased to bring down the current price
of RM5 per 40mg of the drug. Methadone is used in therapy for drug
addicts. Najib said the pioneer methadone replacement programme which
started last October with 1,200 drug addicts had proven effective with
85 to 90 per cent of them now free of drug and 71 per cent to 90 per
cent having found jobs. Phase two of the programme in 2006-2007 will be
extended to all government hospitals.