: The intervention of religious figures such as the 'imam' are needed to educate the public on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simultaneously, help those afflicted patients to reach out for help in Muslim-majority states.
Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) president Datuk Dr Raj Karim said due to the HIV stigma spiralling in the community of these states, it was difficult for the patients to come out seeking for treatment and consultation.
"The stigma among the Muslims states is very much present, most of the patients either do not speak about it for fear of being judged. Thus, they do not seek help.
"And, the role of the 'imam' is important, especially in the rural areas as people there listen to what the 'imam' has to say," she said during the launch of the Ending AIDS by 2030 campaign, in commemoration of the World AIDS Day 2015 here, Sunday.
According to the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) in 2014, Kelantan recorded the second highest number of HIV cases with 207 new cases recorded out of the 3,393 total cases in the country.
Kuala Lumpur AIDS Support Service Society (KLASS) volunteer Andrew Tan suggested there should a legislation to protect those infected with HIV against discrimination at the workplace.
"The mindset on the disease among Malaysians is still low. To many, those who contracted the disease are 'bad people' and such thinking must stop," said Tan, 56, who was diagnosed with the disease, about 22 years ago.
He said there was still hope for HIV patients to strive in their life, as well as serve for the betterment of the community, but such discrimination impeded their ambitions.
The World AIDS Day 2015 event was held in collaboration with the health ministry and Yayasan Sime Darby at Encorp Mall Strand and supported by ONE CONDOM and Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation.