PETALING JAYA: As Covid-19 receives much focus and attention, the government has been urged not to leave People Living with HIV (PLHIV) aside during the pandemic.
The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) has urged vaccination for PLHIV to be encouraged and prioritised.
"As Covid-19 continues to be prioritised, let us not forget the treatment of other diseases.
"Ongoing investment and efforts in HIV prevention and treatment must continue to save lives from unnecessary deaths, including those related to HIV/AIDS," the council said in a statement on Friday (May 14).
It said the advancement of HIV-related medical research year by year has shown that PLHIV can live longer and healthier lives.
"Antiretroviral treatment gives hope to the community and provides them a second chance to live like other individuals.
"MAC is ever grateful for the tireless efforts of the Malaysian government in providing medicine and health access, which has improved the lives of those living with HIV significantly," it added.
However, MAC noted that despite the advancement of HIV treatment, only 57% of PLHIV are on treatment, and that to achieve zero deaths related to HIV, more PLHIV need to receive treatment.
"AIDS-related deaths and complications are preventable if PLHIV initiate treatment as early as possible," it said.
Currently, there are 77,903 PLHIV in Malaysia.
From 1986 to 2019,44,829 AIDS-related deaths have been reported, with 986 of them registered in 2019.
MAC, alongside the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF), will be commemorating the International AIDS Memorial Day 2021 on Sunday (May 16) to remember and honour the lives of those who have passed on in their fight against AIDS since the epidemic was first reported in Malaysia in the 1980s.
“Those who have left us are our heroes. This is a timely event that they are being remembered and we celebrate their lives. The biggest challenge still is the stigma and discrimination.
"Shower them with love and treat them just like anybody else you meet, passionately and full of acceptance, ” said MAC president Datuk Dr Christopher Lee in the same statement.
MAF, with the support of condom brand Durex, has launched the Durex-MAF IAMD2021 Virtual Run.
The virtual run is aimed at raising funds to expand the Paediatric AIDS Fund (PAF) to help underprivileged children affected or infected by HIV/AIDS.
Registration is now open via the BookDoc mobile app that can be downloaded via App Store, Google Play Store and Huawei App Gallery.