AIDS foundation in bid to help women with HIV get back on their feet

The Malaysian AIDS Foundation is organising a dinner to raise donations for a scheme to help women living with HIV to start their own income-generating enterprises. (MAF Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) will be introducing a special programme to improve the livelihood of Malaysian women living with HIV, in light of the recent spike in HIV cases in women.

Its main goal is to equip women and single mothers living with HIV with the knowledge and skill sets to start their own income-generating enterprises, refer them to suitable jobs and provide them with peer support.

Last year, there were more than 13,000 reported cases of HIV infection among women in Malaysia, a virus that can lead to AIDS, which sees a progressive failure of the immune system. It is not curable.

The HIV epidemic here is associated with sex workers, transgenders, injecting drug users and men involved in sexual intercourse with each other. Last year, there was an increase among homosexuals and bisexuals.

But women too are at risk. They are often discriminated against at work and risk losing their jobs if their HIV status is found out.

In fact, in poor households and rural areas, such women don’t have a say in their own sexual health and well-being, leading to their isolation at home where they raise their families all on their own.

This is what drove MAF to introduce the MyLady Assistant Scheme, said MAF trustee Nigel Skelchy.

The scheme will be launched at a special gala dinner this Friday.

The dinner aims to raise RM200,000 for funding the MyLady Assistance Scheme. Those interested in chipping in can purchase tables during the dinner, priced from RM3,000 to RM10,000.

The event will be held at the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur. Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh will officiate the dinner and launch the scheme.

The event will also feature television host Owen Yap as well as singers Atilia Haron and Winnie K.

The dinner will also pay tribute to Malaysian women who made significant contributions to the country’s development, in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8.

MAF aims to raise funds for the Triple-A Challenge as well, a crowdfunding campaign for two long-distance marathon runners to participate in the Ultra Asia Race, a four-day 160km foot race in March.

MAF chairman Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said she was delighted that the group is kicking off its first fundraising campaign for the year with a focus on women and children through these two initiatives.

She also said MAF strives to address gender and socioeconomic disparities and socio-health determinants that increase the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV through treatment and support.

“We hope that these newly launched and specially catered programmes will help put them on the right path to self-reliance and greater financial independence,” she said, citing this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Balance for Better”.

Frank Beck, managing director of Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, the official hotel sponsor for the dinner, praised MAF for its work with women living with HIV, calling it a worthy cause.

Donations for the Triple A-Campaign and the MyLady Assistant Scheme can be made online at www.simplygiving.com/appeal/triple-a-challenge-2019.

More information is available at the MAF website: http://www.yam.org.my

Interested parties can also contact Zackery Zainal at [email protected] and Izarin Izmir at [email protected] from the Malaysian AIDS Council for details about sponsorship for the dinner.