Everyone’s having sex, so let teens take HIV tests, says activist
KUALA LUMPUR: An AIDS activist has urged the government to allow teenagers access to reproductive health services and contraceptives, saying it is only realistic to do so given that many are already sexually active.
Martin Choo, general manager of Kuala Lumpur AIDS Support Services Society (Klass)
Kuala Lumpur AIDS Support Services Society general manager Martin Choo said in Malaysia, teenagers are not allowed to buy condoms until they reach a certain age, or go for HIV detection tests without parental consent.
He said this would only lead to problems and contribute to trends such as baby dumping and the rise in HIV cases.
“As much as we have our moral and religious reservations about this, the reality is that people are having sex, and they’re having sex at whatever age they become sexually mature despite their upbringing,” he told FMT.
He warned that HIV-positive people who did not get treatment would become progressively worse. Citing Putrajaya’s subsidy of treatments for HIV-infected patients and its sponsorship of state-run projects over the past decade, he said a rise in HIV cases would only cost the government more.
However, he voiced appreciation for the government’s initiative to subsidise HIV treatment since 2005, saying other countries in the region had barely come to terms with how to tackle the increase in HIV cases.
At the Universiti Malaya medical centre, one of the few centres in the country that prescribes and dispenses PreP, one month’s supply of the drug was available for less than RM50, he said.
He added however that the prerequisite blood tests were still “somewhat pricey”.
“We already know that HIV has taken a toll in this country. It is now a sexual epidemic and it can spread easily.
“But how can we help solve this if all these kids in college, those in the bottom 40%, youth below 25, are HIV positive? All this sexual energy will come out one way or another,” he said.
Last year, the health ministry reported a 43% decline in the number of new HIV and AIDS cases in the country. The trend shows that more infections come from homosexuals and bisexuals, who have long been associated with the viruses due to same-sex relations.