BY MEENA L. RAMADAS
May 16, 2011
Women, Family and Community Development Ministry directorgeneralDatuk Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur (middle) offi ciates atthe International AIDS Memorial Day 2011 on Saturday.
KUALA LUMPUR: A communitymemorial service held last Saturdaycrossed the race barrier when clericsfrom different religions cametogether to commemorate thoseafflicted with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
About 400 Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus gathered atthe event to remember 13,000 people who died of AIDS in Malaysia.
The multi-faith gathering, organised by PT Foundation, alsointended to show support and encouragement for those living with HIV (human immuno deficiency virus), their families and the communities most at risk of the virus.
In his speech, PT Foundation chairman Hisham Hussein said: “In Malaysia, religion plays a very strong role in creating a more compassionate and effective responseto the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“By working closely with religiousbodies we at PT Foundation can foster better understandingand support for marginalised communities most affected by HIV while ensuring that their religious needsare also supported.”
The event coincided with the International AIDS Memorial Day, which aims to reduce discrimination against people affected by HIV/AIDS as well as mobilise communities, civil society and community leaders to advocate the advancement of public policies for the prevention and spread of HIV.
Hisham said dialogues between these groups are crucial as the Malaysian AIDS Council has established that sexual transmission has superseded drug-related transmissions to become the main driver of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Malaysia.
“In 2010, sexual transmission accounted for 48.5% of all new caseswhile injecting drug users, theprevious epidemic driver, accountedfor 47.6%,” he said.
“From June 1986 to December last year, more than 91,000 people have been infected with HIV inMalaysia,” he added. PT Foundation provides educationon HIV/AIDS prevention, careand support programmes as wellas sexuality awareness and empowerment programmes.