AIDS support in Sarawak to get an added boost with gala

Malaysian AIDS Foundation Kuching Gala poster.

Malaysian AIDS Foundation Kuching Gala poster.

Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) will hold the Malaysian AIDS Foundation Kuching Gala at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on Dec 8.

Held under the esteemed patronage of Sarawak Chief Minister’s wife Datuk Amar Puan Sri Jamilah Anu, the event is to be held in conjunction with the World AIDS Day that is observed globally on Dec 1 every year.

Themed ‘Dedicated to the People of Sarawak’, the event aims at raising funds that will be channelled towards the establishment of the state’s first ever One-Stop Healthcare Centre for Integrated HIV Treatment, Care and Support.

The idea to set up the facility was conceived in response to the barriers faced by people in the rural areas and deep interiors of Sarawak in accessing free HIV healthcare services provided by the government and non-government organisations.

Located in Kuching, the community healthcare centre will act as a halfway home that is seamlessly linked to the Sarawak General Hospital in addition to offering a continuum of HIV and AIDS related care such as community-based HIV testing, counselling, treatment literacy, and legal and welfare service referrals. It will be run by the Sarawak AIDS Concern Society, a Partner Organisation of the Malaysian AIDS Council.

According to MAF chairman Professor Dato Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Sarawak began recording HIV incidences in 1989, three years after the first case in Malaysia was notified. As of December 2015, it has accumulated a total of 2,178 HIV infections, 480 of which resulted in AIDS related deaths.

She pointed out that the current HIV notification rate in Sarawak stands at 8.7 per 100,000 persons, lower than the national average of 10.9 per 100,000 persons. However, new HIV infections in the state have been on the rise in the past five years, with as many as 230 new cases recorded in 2015 compared to 169 in 2011.

“What the figures fail to capture is the harsh reality of battling the negative social impact of HIV and AIDS,” she commented.

“Stigma continues to fuel the AIDS epidemic, the burden of which is most felt by women and children, pushing them to the margins of society and away from lifesaving HIV and AIDS health services. The situation in Sarawak is further compounded by the diversity of its geographical features that impede access to these otherwise readily available services.”

“Our mission is to ensure that no one is left behind. The One-Stop Healthcare Centre is only the beginning of our commitment toward closing the gap and strengthening the state-led AIDS response. Given that the number of infections in the state is relatively small, there is a real opportunity to end AIDS right here in Sarawak, ahead of all the other states in Malaysia.”

The gala night, poised to be MAF’s social event of the year will be able to attract more than 1, 000 guests led by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem. Several other ministers, government officials, top corporate and business leaders, as well as celebrities are expected to join in the merriment of the event.

Headlined by MAF’s own Red Ribbon Celebrity supporters Aaron Aziz, Bob Yusof, Dayang Nurfaizah, Fahrin Ahmad, Ziana Zain and Dee of the ‘Jangan Ketawa’ fame, the star-studded event will feature special performances, auctions, and an exquisite fine dining experience courtesy of BCCK as the main sponsor.

“We are proud to partner with the MAF on this charitable endeavour of such a grand scale and be part of the solution to the AIDS epidemic in Sarawak.

“As a business that strives to create meaningful connections, we hope our contribution will be the impetus that brings people and communities closer together towards achieving the common goal of a Sarawak society free from the negative impact of HIV and AIDS,” added BCCK chairman Datuk Raziahh Mahmud-Geneid.

Jointly organised by the Sarawak State Government in partnership with the Sarawak AIDS Concern Society, the Malaysian AIDS Foundation Kuching Gala sponsors include BCCK, Hilton Kuching, Cats FM, Malindo Air, Mouawad, Outled, and Lumiere Creativo.

Tables priced at RM 25,000 (Diamond), RM 15,000 (Platinum), RM 10,000 (Gold), RM 5,000 (Silver) and RM 2,500 (Bronze) are now available for purchase.

Fans of the Red Ribbon Celebrity Supporters should not miss the opportunity to catch their favourite stars in action at the gala event. Concert-only tickets priced at RM 60 are being sold through Ticketpro Malaysia at www.ticketpro.com.my or hotline 03-78807999.

For reservations and more info, contact MAF at 012-9594596 (Arif) of 019-4413577 (Hafsah). All purchases are entitled to tax exemption receipt from the MAF.

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