KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — RM 2.41 million was raised at the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award Gala Dinner 2019 which celebrates individuals and communities who have made a difference in the fight to end HIV in Malaysia.
The black-tie event was held this evening at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.
In line with the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, “Communities Make The Difference”, MAF chairman Professor Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said community response has been the hallmark of the global HIV response.
“There is no other disease known to mankind where the community response played such a critical role and resulted in significant achievement,” Dr Adeeba said in her speech.
In Malaysia, MAF and its sister organisation the Malaysian AIDS Council have teamed up with more than 40 partner organisations, the Health Ministry and government agencies to advocate, campaign, deliver services and to now strive to end the AIDS epidemic in Malaysia.
“Community members carry out essential outreach programmes to hidden and marginalised populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and transgenders — reaching out to them with important educational messages, and prevention activities including provision of condoms and more recently HIV testing in the field,” Dr Adeeba said.
The gala dinner was attended by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, Tan Sri Vincent Tan of Berjaya Corporation Berhad, Monspace Corporation’s Datuk Seri Jessy Lai and MAF patron Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.
The award’s patron Dr Siti Hasmah was unable to make it due to official duties overseas with her husband, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In her speech, Marina said that it was imperative to be aware that the HIV epidemic is still present, both in the form of those vulnerable to infection and those already living with the virus.
“HIV is such a silent epidemic that it’s easy to forget there are many, especially young people who are ignorant of ways to prevent infection, to get tested if they have been exposed and to access treatment care and support if they need it,” she said.
Marina explained that it is not just the lack of appropriate education on HIV but the issues that leave people vulnerable to infection and the stigma and discrimination attached to the disease.
“It is stigma that prevents people from acknowledging there is an infection, from getting tested and from seeking help,” Marina said.
Last year the gala dinner raised RM1.68 million.
Guests in attendance were served a four-course fine dining dinner by Mandarin Oriental chef Arif Zihan and his team.
The evening was made complete with entertainment from the likes of Sean Ghazi, Bob Yusof and the iconic RTM Orchestra.
The highlight of the evening for music fans was none other than the dazzling Indonesian songstress Krisdayanti.
MAF and the Malaysian AIDS Council aim to end AIDS by 2030.
Malay Mail is media partner for the event.