Star: GEORGE TOWN: Some 90% of drug users do not use condoms and this is a source of worry because it can contribute to the rise of HIV/AIDS cases, said social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.
Marina, an Asia Pacific Leadership Forum on HIV/AIDS steering committee member, said drug users continued to neglect the use of condoms despite the contraceptives being distributed for free by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“Condoms are 98% safe and it can present an affordable way to combat the spread of the disease,” she told reporters yesterday after the opening of the World HIV/AIDS Day national conference.
The two-day conference was launched by Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Marina said 24-hour convenience stores should be allowed to sell condoms off-the-shelf although some state governments were against it.
Malaysian AIDS Council vice-president Datuk Zaman Khan said the distribution of free condoms did not mean that NGOs were encouraging free sex.
In his speech, Liow said the country was on track towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV by 2015.
He said the disease remained a potent threat because of the increasing infection through sex and more women were becoming infected.
Liow said the notification rate of HIV/AIDS in the country had continued to fall each year after it peaked at 6,978 cases or 28.5% per 100,000 population in 2002.
Last year, it was 13.3% per 100,000 population and this year indication shows that it may drop to 11% per 100,000.
“I am optimistic that the country can arrest the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015 based on current trends,” he said.