HIV trending, sexual and reproductive health and rights urgently needed

Universiti Malaya Feminism Club (UMFC) President Chin Jes Weng, emphasised the urgency of advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights among tertiary students in light of the rising HIV cases.

“Sex is taboo in society, and it does not help with protecting students’ health,” she said. She said not enough is being done to spread awareness about these issues.

“A lot more can be done, especially by the authorities since they have more power and resources,” she said, reported The Star. 

Currently, her society is focusing on campaigning against anti-sexual harassment; however, they plan to advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the future.

Sherlee, aged 21 and co-head of the Welfare Department at Monash University Student Association (MUSA), is concerned over the increasing number of HIV cases among tertiary students.

“Nevertheless, it is the department’s responsibility to share and advocate for it at the university,” she said.

“We are open-minded and inclusive; those who need help can just reach out to us,” she said.

Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) president Mohd Izzat Afifi Abdul Hamid highlighted the issue as worrisome, particularly given the easing of Covid-19 movement restrictions in Malaysia.

“However, there are also socioeconomic reasons at play, such as poverty, poor social cohesion, and a lack of education towards health sciences, among others,” he said.

He added that there could be underreporting of cases due to the stigma associated with being an HIV patient.

He highlighted that MBM conducts continuous dialogues with universities, colleges, youth associations, and civil society organisations, aiming to stimulate discussions. 

This effort also involves innovative approaches to educate youth about HIV, including its impact, symptoms, and available support.