Monday, July 03, 2006

Dispute over Unicef’s HIV figures

NST: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is disputing Unicef estimates that 25,000 children in Malaysia are either HIV-positive or have lost one parent to AIDS.
"How did they come up with this figure?" asks Datuk Dr Faisal Ibrahim, a public health expert with the ministry’s AIDS/STD section.
"It is a question of estimates.
"If they get the wrong basic information, then the estimate will be wrong."
He said the ministry’s figure was much lower.
"Our estimates are based on the basic data we collected in 2002 when we estimated there were about 4,000 of these children below the age of 15," Dr Faisal said.
He said the ministry would embark next month on another estimate of the number of orphaned children with HIV or whose parents had died of AIDS.
Asked where the HIV orphans were, Dr Faisal said this was a "a very big question mark".
"Those days, people did not like to reveal their status because of the stigma and discrimination."
The ministry wanted to trace these children and is encouraging the children or next of kin to come forward.

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