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Malaysia Considering Internment of AIDS Victims With PM-France-AIDS

September 19, 1991

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ The government is considering tough measures to control the spread of AIDS, including building a settlement similar to a leper colony to detain AIDS victims, the health minister said today.

The government also was considering severe punishment for people convicted of bringing prostitutes infected with AIDS into the country, including beatings with a cane and long prison terms, said the minister, Lee Kim Sai.

The government may lift a ban on publicizing the names of AIDS victims and issue special identification cards to AIDS carriers, Lee said.

″The government is very concerned about finding ways to protect the public from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission,″ Lee said.

Dr. Pius Martin, president of the Malaysian Medical Association, said the group did not completely oppose special AIDS camps, but stressed that only changes in sexual behavior would solve the AIDS problem.

In Geneva, an official with the World Health Organization, declined to directly discuss Malaysia without further details. But he said such an approach ″is not consistent with WHO’s recommendations″ and ″it won’t result in optimal control of the infection.″

Dr. Michael Merson, head of WHO’s Global Program on AIDS, said the agency opposes publicizing names of patients, isolating AIDS sufferers and similar actions because that discriminates against victims.

He said as far as he knew, Cuba was the only country with a ″settlement″ for AIDS sufferers. He said WHO representatives had held talks with Cuban officials and Cuba recently relaxed its rules to allow patients to leave several times a week.

Officials of the Human Rights Lawyers Committee in Malaysia could not be reached for comment on the plans.

Malaysian authorities say about 1,500 AIDS carriers are in the country and about 27 people are known to have died of the disease.

The government wanted to confine victims of deadly acquired immune deficiency syndrome to a settlement similar to its Leprosy Control Center, where doctors care for leprosy patients.

Lee said the government also was considering confining about 100 AIDS carriers in Malaysian prisons to a single facility to help control the spread of the disease and to provide better medical treatment.

Drug addicts with AIDS are being moved into a single center at Serendah, 25 miles from Kuala Lumpur, said Home Affairs Minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub.

Arumugam Karunaivel, deputy director of Perak State Health Services Department, said clients of 12 Thai prostitutes working in Telok Intan, 80 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur, should have their blood tested because two of the women were carriers of the AIDS virus.

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