Davindren A/L Tharmalingam
Project Coordinator, SKPA
Malaysian AIDS Council
“…PrEP can be a useful intervention for MSM (and other key populations) who engage in risky behaviors such as multiple casual sex partners and recreational drug use in the context of sex, aka chemsex.”Davindren A/L Tharmalingam
In view of the increasing trend of sexual transmission and rise of new HIV cases among MSM, the Ministry of Health Malaysia have included PrEP & PEP as part of the National Strategic Plan to end AIDS by 2030. PrEP is now available in Malaysia as a registered antiretroviral drug, however it is currently not licensed for HIV prevention. Given the rising HIV prevalence among Malaysian MSM, the country has understood the importance of how PrEP can be implemented as part of targeted combination prevention services for this population. Although numerous studies on PrEP uptake and scale-up activities are currently being conducted among key populations in the country, the HIV Connect Program & The MyPrEP Locator website are the two successful initiatives currently available in Malaysia.
HIV Connect is a joint initiative between MAF and the Malaysian Society of HIV Medicine (MAHSM). A self-paced, online training programme to upskill General Practitioners (GPs) from private clinics with capacity to prescribe HIV treatment and prevention services. This programme covers the basics of HIV/AIDS, Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP & PEP) for HIV & AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) where the overall program contains short, illustrated lectures designed and presented by Malaysia’s leading specialists in Infectious Diseases, where GPs will gain access to Continuing Medical Education (CME) lectures that present balanced, timely, scientifically rigorous, and clinically relevant information about HIV disease management. Through the HIV Connect, the GPs will gain the following benefits;
- Access the updated HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care options.
- Provide long-term care for patients with HIV within own clinical practice
- Prescribe and dispense PrEP & PEP to patients at high risk for HIV in Malaysia
- Get the latest management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Community Partnership with Malaysian AIDS Council and Malaysian AIDS Foundation.
Upon completion, the GPs and their private practice will be endorsed by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation to be part of the Red Ribbon Alliance, gain an endorsed certificate & receive Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.
Furthermore, the MyPrEP Locator website is a national directory of providers of HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in Malaysia. This website creates a comprehensive database of private clinics providing PrEP in Malaysia, as well as an interactive map for individuals interested in acquiring PrEP for HIV in Malaysia. MyPrEP Locator seeks to provide website visitors access to a national, integrated service from private practice providers trained through the HIV Connect program. The original content and direction of MyPrEP Locator was developed by researchers from University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in Kuala Lumpur, and the Center of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA). However, further upgrades are currently taking place with the collaboration of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) to provide the best user-experiences for both the website visitors and to the registered private GPs.
In conclusion, PrEP can be a useful intervention for MSM (and other key populations) who engage in risky behaviors such as multiple casual sex partners and recreational drug use in the context of sex, aka chemsex. Malaysia will need to promote more awareness and understanding of PrEP and PEP as an effective and safe prevention tool, in combination with other safer sex methods that are appropriate. Additionally, the public health efforts need to focus on how to increase access to basic HIV-related services for high-risk key populations in the country and consider how best to integrate PrEP within existing services. These efforts include the national policies and implementation tools needed to support successful implementation of PrEP and PEP.
About our contributor
Davin is Project Coordinator of the Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in Asia (SKPA), a multi-country Global Fund grant in partnership with Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) International Program. Some of the projects coordinated by Davin and his team are the HIV self-testing pilot study, Chemsex cohort study, and the S&D Reduction on PLHIV at healthcare centres with the MOH.
He is also an advocate for YPLHIV and a member of the Asia Community for AIDS Treatment and Advocacy Leadership Development Program for Youth (Youth ACATA) by TreatAsia since 2017.
- Lim SH, Mburu G, Bourne A, Pang J, Wickersham JA, Wei CKT, et al. (2017) Willingness to use pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in Malaysia: Findings from an online survey. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0182838. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0182838
- HIV Connect. Malaysian AIDS Foundation. (n.d.). https://maf.org.my/V2/project/hiv-connect/.
- About Us. My PrEP Locator. (n.d.). https://mypreplocator.com/about-us/.