Give PrEP to high risk HIV groups, MMA tells Putrajaya

KOUSALYA SELVAM
KOUSALYA SELVAM
24 Jan 2023 06:09pm
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai
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SHAH ALAM - The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the government to provide Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), an oral medicine taken to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use to to high risk groups base on scientific evidence.

This comes after Selangor Mufti Department's said prescribing PrEP to those who “practice a homosexual lifestyle” would be a form of complicity in sin. Due to that, it should only be given to married couples.

President Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said the sole purpose of allowing people at highest risk of HIV access to PrEP is to prevent spread of HIV and save lives.

"We take note of the views expressed over the use of PrEP by various groups, however looking at the high numbers of HIV infections, we are still seeing and we feel that a more effective national prevention strategy which includes PrEP is needed.

"With due respect to religious viewpoints expressed on the use of PrEP, the sole purpose of allowing people at highest risk of HIV access to PrEP is to prevent spread of HIV in the population and save lives," he said in a statement.

Muruga also added that this would be in line with Malaysia's commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) where all have equal access to healthcare, including preventive care and that no one should be left behind.

"When taken as prescribed, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 percent.

"Several countries have included PrEP as part of their national strategy to prevent spread of HIV while some countries have recently launched a pilot project," he said.

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In Thailand, Muruga added PrEP was first introduced by the Thai Public Health Ministry in 2017 as part of its government’s strategy in tackling HIV in Thailand.

"Alongside increased education and awareness programmes on HIV prevention, MMA believes efforts to reduce spread of HIV will be significantly more effective.

"However PrEP alone is not the answer. There is still need for continuous awareness campaigns on HIV prevention," he said.