NGO opposes mandatory HIV screening for non-Muslim couples

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak AIDS Concern Society (SACS) is opposed to the proposal by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to make it mandatory for non-Muslim couples who intend to marry to undergo HIV testing.

"In echoing the statement by the Malaysian AIDS Council, Sarawak AIDS Concern Society (SACS) strongly objects the proposal.

"This is in line with the stance of World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS that do not support compulsory screening of individuals for HIV.

"In screening a person for HIV, one's personal choice must be respected while adhering to ethical and human rights principles," it said in a statement on Friday (Dec 21).

Previously, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Ministry was discussing with various ministries on making it mandatory for non-Muslims couple to undergo mandatory HIV testing before tying the knot.

The Malaysian AIDS Council had previously also criticised the Ministry's proposal saying that a compulsory HIV testing was not an effective, long-term solution, adding that HIV testing should be done on a voluntary basis.

SACS said compulsory HIV screenings would not provide any long-term solution in addressing the increase of HIV cases in the country.

It added that a negative result from a screening test provides a false sense of security that a person will never get infected by HIV after marriage.

"The risk of getting infected still exists if one continues to be involved in high-risk activities associated with HIV transmission after screening," it said.

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

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