The rise in the number of women being infected with HIV is an indication that the disease has gone beyond affecting just drug users and sex workers.
“HIV infection among women had increased from 9.4% in 2000 to 19.1% in 2008,” Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said yesterday.
“As of last year, 87,710 people were infected with HIV/AIDS since 1986. Some 12,039 of them died of AIDS-related complications.”
Dr Adeeba said although most HIV cases were due to injecting drug users, there had also been an increase of up to 29.9% due to heterosexual relationship.
“Prevention, stigma and discrimination are the three main issues for Malaysia in dealing with HIV/AIDS,” she said.
Dr Adeeba will be one of the three scientific coaches in the International AIDS Conference 2010 in Vienna from July 18 to July 23 where she will be coordinating the scientific programme for the conference.
The Universiti Malaya Infectious Diseases Unit head is also the only Asian representative in the 28-member Conference Coordinating Committee.
Dr Adeeba said that the conference would present new scientific knowledge and offer many opportunities for structured dialogues on the major issues facing the global response to HIV.
The conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV/AIDS and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic.
Austrian ambassador Mag Andrea Wicke said the event would be attended by over 25,000 participants, making it the world’s biggest event putting HIV on the front burner.
“This is not just a medical conference. It discusses political, social and economic policies in relation to HIV/AIDS,” she said.