The reduced budget includes a dramatic 80% reduction in allocation for HIV prevention programmes for sex workers and transgender people, and has zero funds allocated for programmes aimed at men who have sex with men.
Alliance Linking Organisation, the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC), has released a press statement outlining its concerns. MAC’s spokesperson said: “While we are supportive of the government’s commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 5 of halting the spread and reversing the trend of HIV by 2015, we are deeply concerned with this funding cutback which may ultimately prove detrimental to this goal.”
Data from a joint study between MAC and the Ministry of Health in 2009, in Malaysia’s Klang valley region, showed that 1 in 10 sex workers and transgender people, and 1 in 5 injecting drug users are infected with HIV - these announced cuts could seriously jeopardise efforts to reverse the HIV epidemic amongst these populations.
“What is needed is a scale up of evidence driven programmes with adequate funding and not the reverse. This funding cut is also not in keeping with the National Strategic Plan for HIV for 2011 – 2015, which calls for a greater response to address the increasing trend of HIV via sexual transmission across all populations.
“It is our hope that the national HIV funding environment will quickly improve and more resources will be directed to support targeted intervention programmes for key affected populations.”
Describing the funding cutbacks in detail, the MAC statement elaborates on how the budget cut will adversely impact on the livelihoods of more than 80 community outreach workers; forcing them to return to the street, which will render them even more vulnerable to the risk of HIV.
Download the press release.
MAC’s response has also been picked up by Free Malaysia Today, read the article here.