MSM Country Snapshot Series: Malaysia

By December 21, 2012 May 18th, 2020 Policies

The composition of Malaysia’s HIV epidemic is changing rapidly. Whereas it was previously understood to be more heavily concentrated among people who use drugs(PWUD), sexual transmission appears to be on the rise.Women and MSM in particular are facing an increasing share of new infections. Given the emphasis that PWUD have received in research and prevention programmes in Malaysia over the last several years, some postulate that decreased transmission among PWUD enhances the vividness of risk among other populations.

Islam inevitably influences how homosexuality is viewed by the general public and may influence sexual risk taking behaviours in ways that are not entirely understood. Ostracization from family and friends, class discrimination, and social stigmatization are all common experiences for MSM in Islamic countries. Risk might also rise from the belief that adherence to religious teachings should suffice as protection from HIV; or in some cases, a view of HIV transmission as an in escapable ‘fate.’ These hypotheses were confirmed by recent focus groups and are in line with data that indicate higher HIV risk among Malays as compared to their Chinese peers.