OBJECTIVES: Stigma towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is strong in Malaysia. Although stigma has been understudied, it may be a barrier to treating the approximately 81 000 Malaysian PLWHA. The current study explores correlates of intentions to discriminate against PLWHA among medical and dental students, the future healthcare providers of Malaysia.
METHODS: An online, cross-sectional survey of 1296 medical and dental students was conducted in 2012 at seven Malaysian universities; 1165 (89.9%) completed the survey and were analysed. Socio-demographic characteristics, stigma-related constructs and intentions to discriminate against PLWHA were measured. Linear mixed models were conducted, controlling for clustering by university.
RESULTS: The final multivariate model demonstrated that students who intended to discriminate more against PLWHA were female, less advanced in their training, and studying dentistry. They further endorsed more negative attitudes towards PLWHA, internalised greater HIV-related shame, reported more HIV-related fear and disagreed more strongly that PLWHA deserve good care. The final model accounted for 38% of the variance in discrimination intent, with 10% accounted for by socio-demographic characteristics and 28% accounted for by stigma-related constructs.
CONCLUSIONS: It is critical to reduce stigma among medical and dental students to eliminate intentions to discriminate and achieve equitable care for Malaysian PLWHA. Stigma-reduction interventions should be multipronged, addressing attitudes, internalised shame, fear and perceptions of deservingness of care.
KEYWORDS: HIV/AIDS; Malaisie; Malasia; Malaysia; VIH/SIDA; cuidados sanitarios profesionales; discriminación; discrimination; estigma; homosexuality; professional healthcare students; stigma; stigmatisation; substance abuse; étudiants en profession de soins de santé
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.