| Updated at: 1206 PST, Monday, December 06, 2010|
KUALA LUMPUR: Philandering husbands who visit prostitutes across the border in Thailand are being blamed for high HIV-AIDS infection rates among women in Malaysia's most conservative state.
The Malaysian AIDS Council reportedly said that women in northern Kelantan state, which is ruled by the hardline Islamic party PAS, top the infection lists in Malaysia.
"Many of the women were afflicted with the disease as their husbands had engaged the services of prostitutes," council president Mohamed Zaman Khan told national news agency Bernama.
"For example, Kelantanese men often go to Sungai Golok and after engaging with prostitutes, they return to their wives and pass on the disease," he said, referring to the notorious Thai town near the Malaysian border.
A local news agency quoted Health Department deputy director-general Hasan Abdul Rahman as telling the World AIDS Day event Sunday that the infection rate in Kelantan was four times higher than the national average.
Despite its small population of 1.6 million, Kelantan had the highest number of women affected by HIV-AIDS at 1,211 cases, followed by Johor with 1,124 in a population of 3.4 million.
The Malaysian AIDS Council was not immediately able to confirm the report.