September 6, 2013
The number of Malaysian students who contracted HIV in 2012 more than doubled from 69 in 2011 to 170, while overall HIV rates remained stable, according to health officials. Malaysia AIDS Council Executive Director Roswati Ghani said the council was deeply concerned by the increasing number of new HIV infections among students. "What's also alarming is the proportion of new HIV cases reported in the younger age group of 13-29 years, to the overall population (1 to 4 in 2012)," she said.
The rate of students testing positive for HIV had been increasing since 2008, but 2012 saw the rate of infections surge by 148 percent. The Ministry of Health Malaysia did not release specific ages of the students diagnosed with HIV but it is believed the majority were university students. "We are also cognizant of this situation; and that the HIV epidemic in this country continues to be driven by sexual transmission since beginning 2010," Ghani said.
Ghani encouraged colleges to provide accurate HIV information to all students. "They should formalize HIV education in the curriculum and provide counseling services that are evidence-based while, at the same time, respecting the students' sensitivities and rights," she said. She added that students should get tested on a regular basis and know their HIV status.