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Aids: Divided Over HIV Testing

Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, January 06 @ 08:16:44 CST

By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 (IPS) - A raging debate over mandatory HIV screening has exposed fear and ignorance within government, despite years of awareness campaigns to eradicate prejudice against people living with the virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Some high officials have suggested that those with HIV be quarantined at specially constructed camps, or even isolated on islands, to safeguard the general population.

Others are calling for new mandatory rules forcing all Muslim couples, about to tie the knot, to be tested for HIV status before being allowed to marry. They also want rules to bar infected couples from having sex or having babies.

There have even been calls for mandatory screenings for all Malaysians, irrespective of race of religion.

Muslim clerics have already announced that limited mandatory testing for HIV would be extended nationally to cover all Muslim couples from Jan. 1, 2009.

Despite protests from HIV/AIDS experts and civil rights activists who say mandatory screening is a serious violation of individual rights and does not prevent spread of the disease, the government intends to widen the mandatory screening rule to all Malaysian couples.



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