Since the first case of HIV/AIDS was identified in 1986 in Malaysia, the number of infected individuals has increased steadily each year, so that by the end of 2002 the cumulative number of people living with HIV/AIDS was 57,835 (51,256 with HIV and 6,579 with AIDS), with 5,676 AIDS deaths. The epidemic in Malaysia, currently in a concentrated epidemic stage, is primarily fueled by drug use, but there is ample evidence that heterosexual transmission has increased over the last few years. A strategic plan that includes prevention, care, support, and treatment run by both the government and nongovernmental organizations has been in place since the beginning of the epidemic. However, Malaysia will need to take a more pragmatic approach to reduce new infections (which numbered 19 each day in 2002) among the youth on whom the country relies for development. Leaders need to recognize that HIV/AIDS is not just a health issue, but also a socioeconomic concern that can eliminate all the developmental gains achieved over the years. Working together, Malaysians can overcome the epidemic, but there is a need to act quickly and to act in effective ways so that the devastating effects (already evident in the number of AIDS orphans and widows) can be reduced.
This paper examines the impact of cultural values and government policies on the content of AIDS educational literature prepared by public health agencies in Malaysia and the Philippines. The literature from these countries, which has been distributed to the public and is intended to inform them of the danger of AIDS, how the HIV is and is not transmitted, and how to avoid infection, is analyzed and evaluated for effectiveness and congruence with the dominant religious tenets and cultural practices in each country, and attitudes to sexual behavior. The paper also describes the response of these countries to the AIDS pandemic, and concludes with suggestions about how this form of AIDS education can be improved.
Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are a group at high risk for HIV infection, yet no research has been conducted to understand this population in Malaysia. Semistructured interviews from a combination of YMSM aged 18-25 (n = 20) and local service providers of sexual health services (n = 4) were conducted from May to June 2015. Thematic analysis was used to identify common themes in participant responses from transcripts. Participants reported societal and internalized homophobia, an absence of sex education and difficulty accessing confidential HIV testing. This study provides insights into how homophobia in Malaysian society influences individual risk behavior for HIV in Malaysian YMSM, and makes practical suggestions for more effective HIV prevention in this population.
This study aimed to examine the barriers and facilitators to HIV testing and treatment among Malaysian MSM. Between June 2014 and December 2015, in-depth interviews were conducted in 20 HIV-positive MSM recruited from a teaching hospital and NGO in Kuala Lumpur. Thematic analysis was used to identify, analyze, and report themes. Most participants investigated their HIV status after long period of sickness. Others sought testing upon partner's diagnosis and some were diagnosed via blood donation. Barriers to testing include personal (perceived good health, fear of positive result, denial); social and structural factors (stigmatization by health providers and family, lack of information about free HIV testing and long wait time). Barriers to treatment comprise personal factors (perceived HIV as incurable and treatment as complicated), social factors (HIV and homosexual stigma), and cost. Promoting benefits of regular testing and early treatment is needed to improve HIV care continuum among MSM in Malaysia.