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KUALA LUMPUR, May 24:

New HIV cases in Malaysia had recorded a drop of more than 50% in 11 years, from 6,978 cases reported in 2002 to 3,393 cases last year, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

He said new HIV infection among drug addicts, the high risk group that previously recorded the highest rate of new infections, had also shown a consistent drop.

“This is the outcome of the Reducing Harm programme (injection tools and needle exchange programme and Methadone Replacement Therapy) that was launched simultaneously by the ministry, Malaysian AIDS Council and its affliates in 2006.

“New HIV infection among drug addicts has since then decreased from 53% in 2006 to only 22% last year,” he said in his speech at the 12th Malaysian Aids Council biannual meeting here today. His speech was read by Health deputy director-general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman.

Dr Subramaniam said the government was confident that the Millennium Development Goal of targeting 11 new infections for every 100,000 of the population by 2015 could be achieved.

However, he said, sexual transmission had contributed to more than 74% of new cases last year, a drastic rise compared with only 32% five years ago.

He said sex within the context of HIV was a very sensitive and complex issue to address and, as such, the ministry’s health officers should find the best way to curb infection through sexual transmission.

Those infected with HIV must also be sincere and responsible in not spreading it to their partners, he said.

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