Men who have sex with men (MSM) living in countries with strong stigma toward MSM are vulnerable to HIV and experience significant barriers to HIV care. Research is needed to inform interventions to reduce stigma toward MSM in these countries, particularly among healthcare providers. A cross-sectional survey of 1158 medical and dental students was conducted at seven Malaysian universities in 2012. Multivariate analyses of variance suggest that students who had interpersonal contact with MSM were less prejudiced toward and had lower intentions to discriminate against MSM. Path analyses with bootstrapping suggest stereotypes and fear mediate associations between contact with prejudice and discrimination. Intervention strategies to reduce MSM stigma among healthcare providers in Malaysia and other countries with strong stigma toward MSM may include facilitating opportunities for direct, in-person or indirect, media-based prosocial contact between medical and dental students with MSM.
BACKGROUND: Poor HIV testing uptake by MSM may be attributable to unique challenges that are localized in Southeast Asia.
OBJECTIVE: To characterize MSM who never tested for HIV, to identify correlates of never testing, and to elucidate the perceived barriers to HIV testing.
METHODS: The present study used data from the Asian Internet MSM Sex Survey (AIMSS) and restricted the analysis to 4,310 MSM from the ten member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
RESULTS: Among MSM participants from ASEAN in our sample, 1290 (29.9%) reported having never been tested for HIV, 471 (10.9%) tested for HIV more than 2 years ago, and 2186 (50.7%) reported their last test date was between 6 months and two years ago, with only 363 (8.4%) of these men having been tested in the past 6 months. In multivariable logistic regression, younger MSM (age 15-22 years old [AOR: 4.60, 95% CI: 3.04-6.96]), MSM with lower education (secondary school or lower [AOR: 1.37, 95% CI: 1.03-1.83]), MSM who identify as bisexual or heterosexual (compared to gay-identified) (AOR: 1.94, 95% CI: 1.60-2.35), and MSM who had never used a condom with male partners (AOR: 1.61, 95% CI: 1.32-1.97) had higher odds of never been HIV tested. Main reason for not being tested was a low risk perception of HIV exposure (n = 390, 30.2%).
CONCLUSION: Current HIV prevention response must not leave MSM "in the dark," but instead meet them where they are by utilizing the Internet creatively through social media and smart phones. As ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is quickly becoming a reality, so must there be an equally fast and united response to slowing down the HIV epidemics among MSM in ASEAN.
Stigma perpetuated by health-care providers has been found to be a barrier to care for vulnerable populations, including HIV-infected, people who inject drugs (PWIDs), and men who have sex with men (MSM) in multiple clinical contexts and remains unexamined among professional health-care students in Malaysia. This cross-sectional, anonymous, and Internet-based survey assessed the attitudes of medical and dental students toward HIV-infected, PWID, and MSM patients. Survey invitation was emailed to 3191 students at 8 professional schools; 1296 (40.6%) responded and scored their attitudes toward these patient groups using a feeling thermometer, indicating their attitudes on a sliding scale from 0 (most negative) to 100 (most positive). Compared to general patients (mean = 76.50), the mean scores for HIV-infected (mean = 54.04; p < 0.001), PWID (mean = 37.50; p < 0.001), and MSM (mean = 32.13; p < 0.001) patients were significantly lower and significantly different between each group comparison. Within group differences, most notably religion, ethnicity, and personally knowing someone from these populations were associated with significant differences in attitudes. No differences were noted between pre-clinical and clinical year of training. Health-care students represent the next generation of clinicians who will be responsible for future HIV prevention and treatment efforts. Our findings suggest alarmingly negative attitudes toward these patients, especially MSM, necessitating prompt and effective interventions designed to ameliorate the negative attitudes of health-care students toward vulnerable populations, specifically HIV-infected, PWID, and MSM patients in Malaysia.
INTRODUCTION: This study aims to examine the validity and reliability of the Malay version of Attitudes toward Lesbians and Gay Men (MVATL/MVATG) among a group of medical students in Malaysia.
METHODS: It is a cross-sectional study of 173 medical students in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The participants were given the MVATL/MVATG, Index of Attitudes toward Homosexuals (IATH), Homosexuality Attitude Scale (HAS) and the English version of Attitude toward Lesbians and Gay Men. Two weeks later, these students were given the MVATLG again.
RESULTS: Significant correlation was found between the individual scores of MVATL and MVATG with IATH and HAS in the results. The scale was able to differentiate Muslim and Non-Muslim subjects. The internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) of both the MVATL and MVATG were good, at 0.76 and 0.82, respectively. The parallel form reliability (Pearson's correlation) of MVATL was 0.0.73 and 0.74 for MVATG. The test-retest reliability of MVATL/MVATG was good (Intraclass correlation coefficient, ICC = 0.67 for MVATL and 0.60 for MVATG).
DISCUSSION: The MVATLG demonstrated good psychometric properties in measuring attitudes toward homosexuality among a group of medical students in Malaysia and it could be used as a simple instrument on young educated Malaysian adults.
KEYWORDS: Malaysia; attitude; gay men; homosexuality; lesbians; validation
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.
Transgender women (TGW) face compounded levels of stigma and discrimination, resulting in multiple health risks and poor health outcomes. TGW identities are erased by forcing them into binary sex categories in society or treating them as men who have sex with men (MSM). In Malaysia, where both civil and religious law criminalise them for their identities, many TGW turn to sex work with inconsistent prevention methods, which increases their health risks. This qualitative study aims to understand how the identities of TGW sex workers shapes their healthcare utilisation patterns and harm reduction behaviours. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 male-to-female transgender (mak nyah) sex workers in Malaysia. Interviews were transcribed, translated into English, and analysed using thematic coding. Results suggest that TGW identity is shaped at an early age followed by incorporation into the mak nyah community where TGW were assisted in gender transition and introduced to sex work. While healthcare was accessible, it failed to address the multiple healthcare needs of TGW. Pressure for gender-affirming health procedures and fear of HIV and sexually transmitted infection screening led to potentially hazardous health behaviours. These findings have implications for developing holistic, culturally sensitive prevention and healthcare services for TGW.