PETALING JAYA: Datuk Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman has been appointed the International AIDS Society's (IAS) president for the 2020-2022 term.
The Malaysian AIDS Foundation said Dr Adeeba, its chairman, was the first Asian as well as the first from a Muslim-majority country to hold the position.
"She officially stepped into her new role at the 23rd International AIDS Conference, currently being held virtually from July 6-10 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"The physical conference was originally planned to be held in San Francisco and Oakland in the United States," it said in a statement on Friday (July 10).
IAS is the world's largest association of HIV professionals comprising more than 12,000 members across 170 countries.
Dr Adeeba is also the dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Universiti Malaya and the Malaysian AIDS Council's vice-president.
The foundation added that Dr Adeeba was highly regarded as the leading clinical expert for HIV/AIDS in Malaysia, and the driving force and one of the architects of Malaysia’s successful harm-reduction policy for mitigating the HIV/AIDS epidemic among injecting drug users through a combination of opioid substitution therapy and needle syringe exchange programme (NSEP).
"The policy was credited for single-handedly turning the tide of the HIV epidemic in Malaysia and reducing the rate of new infections by 50% in the past decade.
"Dr Adeeba went on to become a key proponent of reforming existing drug policies altogether, advocating a public health approach that decriminalises individual drug users and divert them to community-run rehabilitation services," it said.