HIV carriers shouldn't marry: Malaysia official

Says it is in order to avoid having sick children


HIV carriers should not be allowed to marry, in order to avoid having sick children, a top Malaysian politician was quoted on Monday as saying.

"Somebody who is very sick like that should not be allowed to get married," Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, chief minister of northern Perak state was quoted as saying by New Straits Times newspaper.

"If there's any breeding, sorry for having to use that word, the embryo will also carry the same virus. So that is even more unfair because you are actually passing that disease on to the child."

He had been asked to comment on a statement by an official of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia that Muslims who test positive for the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, would still be allowed to marry.

An aide to Nizar, who is a member of the opposition Islamist party Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), said the minister was referring to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was quoted last week as saying all Muslim couples in peninsular Malaysia must undergo HIV screening before getting married.

The debate on the right of HIV/AIDS carriers, especially Muslims, to marry comes as mostly Muslim Malaysia is struggling to allay concerns of a rise in hard-line Islam.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said last month Muslims are allowed to do yoga but without chanting, reversing an outright ban that had caused a flap in the country.

The government has also threatened to shut down a Catholic newspaper for using the world "Allah", saying it could inflame the country's Muslim population.

Politically dominant ethnic Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of the population of roughly 26 million, while the ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities include Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians.

While new HIV infections in Malaysia dropped to 3,452 in 2008, compared to 6,756 in 2003, infections among women through normal sexual intercourse rose from 5.02 percent of total cases in 1997 to 16.3 percent last year.