MELAKA, Sept 4 (Bernama) -- A total of 90 per cent of the country’s HIV / AIDS cases over the last eight years was due to unsafe sex, compared to 10 per cent that was caused by drug addicts and their use and sharing of needles in injecting drugs.
The head of the HIV/STI and Hepatitis C Sector at the Health Ministry's Disease Control Division Dr Anita Suleiman said that the percentage of infections due to unsafe sex was 50 percent from homosexuals and 40 percent from heterosexuals from 2009 until last year.
She said there were significant trends and changes since the HIV/AIDS epidemic was first detected in the country in 1986, when drug addicts were the the largest group with the disease.
"Studies carried out on four high-risk groups with HIV/AIDS - drug addicts, homosexuals, transgender individuals and sex workers – found infection rates had increased in three groups except for drug addicts.
"The decline among drug addicts was because of the government’s ongoing efforts through the Health Ministry which included the Needle and Syringe Exchange Programme and the Methadone Maintenance Therapy started in 2006," Dr Anita told reporters at Bandar Hilir here, today.
She was speaking after launching the National Conference on 'Cities Getting to Zero HIV 2018'. Also present were Melaka Health Committee chairman Low Chee Leong and the state health director Datuk Ghazali Othman.
Dr Anita said HIV/AIDS infections were difficult to detect among unprotected sex practitioners as there was no criteria that indicated that they were sufferers of the disease in the early stages until they became ill, compared to drug addicts who were subject to screening either in prison or at rehabilitation centres.
She said that high-risk groups must have a better awareness on HIV/AIDS by carrying out regular screening to avoid the stigma attached to the disease.
Meanwhile, the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country showed a horizontal pattern in the last five years with an average of 3,300 cases a year and this was of concern with government efforts to achieve zero HIV/AIDS by 2030, she added.
Dr Anita said 70 per cent of those infected with HIV/AIDS were those aged between 29 and 39. Men dominated the highest number of the infectious diseases compared to women in the ratio of 8:1.
Meanwhile, Low said there were 73,557 people with HIV/AIDS in the country with an infection rate of 10.5 per cent for every 100,000 of the population.
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