Affirmative Religious Response Culture to HIV and AIDS: Understanding the Public Relations Role of JAKIM in Curbing the Epidemic among Young Muslim Couples in Malaysia

  •  Tham Sern    
  •  Hasmah Zanuddin    


In regards to containing the spread of the deadly disease namely HIV/AIDS, it is particularly troublesome that the culture of information sharing in terms of sexuality still remains as a private subject and taboo for discussion not only among the Muslim communities but among the Asian communities as well. Despite the fact that Islam is concerned in placing a high value on chaste behaviour, prohibiting sexual intercourse outside marriage and homosexuality, the HIV/AIDS infection will not suppress just because of these strict Islamic doctrines are mostly adhered by fellow Muslims. While the HIV/AIDS scourge is disastrous in disregard of the religious, signaling a dire need to understand the role of religious response in curbing the disease so as to reach out to the target audiences effectively. This study is specifically to explore the responsibility of Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia or the Malaysia Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) in respect to how they convey the accurate information to the Muslim communities in general and among the young Muslim couples in specific. Therefore, semi-structural elite interview with the officer was conducted in order to dwell into the plight of how the religious institution addresses the epidemic. The study found that JAKIM has conferred striking benefits to the Muslim community in curtailing the spread of HIV/AIDS through its publication on “Manual on HIV/AIDS in Islam” and the Premarital HIV Screening Programme. The fantastic contribution of JAKIM therefore can maintain links between the religious group, government, media, and stakeholders on fighting the HIV/AIDS issues.

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