The Malaysia AIDS Council (MAC) last week condemned “fear mongering” media connecting LGBT to HIV and AIDS, and said increased stigma and discrimination would hamper efforts against the disease.
The council rejected a report by National newswire Bernama last week quoting Health Department officials as saying 96 percent of HIV infections were from sexual transmission: MAC said 84 percent of new infections last year were sexually transmitted, and 46 percent were through when who had sex with men.
“However, we are fearful of the adverse effects of homophobia, transphobia, and LGBT fear mongering on the progress of ending AIDS by 2030 — the ultimate goal of the national AIDS response,” MAC told the Malay Online.
“There is enough evidence to prove that in settings where LGBT people are targeted, discriminated against, and persecuted, the AIDS epidemic thrives,” said the non-profit umbrella organisation.
The council said it was working to provide community-based HIV prevention for men who have sex with men as well as transgender people and sex workers.
“Linkages to and uptake of existing HIV testing and treatment services provided for free at government healthcare facilities have markedly improved over the years, owing to the introduction of community-friendly measures and other stigma reduction efforts.
“In Kuala Lumpur, for instance, more than 1,400 MSM, transgender people, and female sex workers received HIV-related services in eight government healthcare facilities between January and August this year alone,” said MAC.