Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Richard Riot (sixth from right) at the launch of the Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV and AIDS (MBCH) Forum 2017 at Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Pix by Aziah Azmee

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Resources Ministry is looking into drafting new regulations that would prevent sufferers of HIV and AIDS from being stigmatised and discriminated against in the Malaysian workplace.

There is currently in place a Code of Practice on Prevention and Management of HIV and AIDS which was developed in 2001 by the Occupational and Safety department – but it is a policy which companies only voluntarily adopt.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Richard Riot wants to change that, making it compulsory for companies to comply with the code of practice.

“The code of practice needs to be reviewed and updated, and the ‘word’ stigma is very important here.

“We must not forget that (there is no risk of HIV-positive workers) transmitting the virus to their colleagues within workplace-appropriate interactions, unlike other diseases which (are) airborne,” he told reporters after the launch of the Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV and AIDS (MBCH) Forum 2017 here on Friday.

Richard further said the ministry plans to conduct a holistic review of existing acts, before presenting the Ministry’s recommendations to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“However, we cannot give any definite timeline, as everything is still under discussion. Engagement with relevant authorities is also important,” he said, adding that to date, 42 companies have adopted the HIV and AIDS code of practice.

“This code of practice applies to all employers and employees in any workplace in Malaysia. (It) effectively outlines ways of preventing and managing HIV and AIDS in the workplace; promotes education and awareness on HIV and AIDS; and supports the creation of a non-judgmental, non-discriminatory work environment.

“Evidence also suggests that the implications of workplace policies that stigmatise and discriminate against HIV employees would only cost business valuable talent, expertise and overall productivity,” he said during his speech.

From 1986 until last year, Malaysia recorded 111,916 HIV-positive cases and 18,827 AIDS-related deaths.

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