One Doctor’s Quest To End HIV/AIDS
PROF Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman: A Catalyst In The Fight Against HIV/AIDS
By Hana Maher
Did you know that approximately 100,000 Malaysians are affected by HIV/AIDS, with some 3,300 reported cases of HIV infections a year? And not only are those infected with this disease subjected to social stigma and discrimination, Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) revealed last year that only 50% of the statistics seek out treatment. But fortunately, these dark times might soon be over as many leading figures and bodies have rallied together to put an end to HIV/AIDS in Malaysia, and among the most prominent is Professor Dato’ Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman.
In 1997, Dr Adeeba established the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University Malaya Medical Centre (MMMC) and 10 years later, she helped establish the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA) at University Malaya (UM) to both develop and enhance the researches into HIV/AIDS in Malaysia. The research centre was then able to set up a clinic in Kajang Prison that enabled Dr Adeeba and her team to provide services to the HIV infected prisoners, while simultaneously allowing them to conduct research into incarcerated settings that may potentially influence certain policies, such as prisoners’ healthcare. In addition, the team had also established a community-based clinic to provide services for HIV infected individuals as well as for those who are at risk of contracting the disease.
Armed with over three-decade worth of experience and knowledge in HIV/AIDS, Dr Adeeba had successfully engaged with the government and called for the adoption of harm reduction measures in tackling HIV/AIDS in Malaysia. Her success played a pivotal role in decreasing the statistics of HIV infections amongst injecting drug users over the last few years. Dr Adeeba also served as the MAC President between 2006 and 2010, where she was the key person behind the introduction and implementation of the needle and syringe exchange programme during her first year at the helm.
Aside from serving as the current Malaysians AIDS Foundation chairman, Dr Adeeba is also the dean of the medical faculty in Malaysia, where she had revamped the medical undergraduate curriculum; led a National Medical Specialist Curriculum and Training project that focused on reforming drug policies; and continues to use her voice to speak for those living with HIV. And to top it all off, she currently chairs the World Health Organisation’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Committee; is a Governing Council Member of the International AIDS Society; and the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel – reaffirming her commitment for the National Strategic Plan for Ending AIDS by 2030.
Her dedication and hard work didn’t go unnoticed as in 2014, Dr Adeeba was named one of the 20 most influential Muslim female scientists in the world. And as they say that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, let’s us applaud Dr Adeeba for her contribution and devotion to ending HIV/AIDS in Malaysia, and for being a force that challenges the social stigma and silences the discrimination against those infected with the disease.