48% of HIV cases last year were through sex

KUALA LUMPUR: More Malaysians were infected with HIV/AIDS via sexual transmission last year, making up 48.5% of the new cases of infections.

This is the first time that unguarded sexual activity has caused more new HIV/AIDS infection cases than drug use through injections.

Statistics from the Malaysian AIDS Council also revealed that homosexual and bisexual transmission cases have shot up last year, from 162 cases to 201.

New cases of HIV/AIDS infections last year numbered at 3,090.

"The trend has changed. HIV/AIDS in Malaysia did not spread mostly by needle injections as most of us were made to believe," PT Foundation chairman Hisham Hussein said at a multi-faith memorial service in conjunction with International AIDS Memorial Day 2011 here last night.

The service, organised by the foundation, was held in an alleyway in an enclave notorious as a hangout for sexual workers and tranvestites.

It was attended by about 200 people who were affected by the diseases directly or indirectly, such as a woman named Hidayah, who was seen clutching her five-year-old child in the crowd.

Fixed to her seat in a sombre expression, Hidayah (not her real name) said that her husband contracted HIV/AIDS five years ago during his secret visits to the brothel. He died three years later.

"I am here with my daughter to show support to other people who have lost someone they once loved to the disease," Hidayah said.

During the event, a half-hour prayer session was held simultaneously for devotees of different faiths, including Islam, Christianity and Hindu.

-The Star/Asia News Network