Key populations well represented in Malaysia study 2011
Majority of the respondents also identified themselves as belonging to key populations, with 52.7% being Injecting Drug Users, 23.2% prisoners(former and current), 10.7% Men who have Sex with Men, 6.7% were gay or lesbian, 6.4% were sex workers and 4.3% were transgender
The PLHIV Stigma Index Study in Malaysia was conducted by The Positive Malaysian Treatment Access and Advocacy Group (MTAAG+). Data collection started in September 2010 and ended in January 2011. A total of 421 PLHIV throughout Malaysia participated in the study, with 14.6% from rural areas, 42.1% from small towns and 43.3% from the cities. Most of the respondents (79.7%) only discovered their HIV status in the last ten years, especially after the Malaysian government started to provide free first line HIV treatment in 2006. Majority of the respondents also identified themselves as belonging to key populations, with 52.7% being IDUs, 23.2% prisoners, 10.7% MSM, 6.7% were gay or lesbian, 6.4% were sex workers and 4.3% were transgender.
Overall, the study found that majority of the respondents (more than 60%) experienced internalised stigma. A total of 64.9% of respondents harboured feelings of shame about themselves, 73.1% felt guilty, 71.6% blamed themselves for their HIV status, and 62.1% had low self-esteem. However most did not feel that they should be punished (69.5%) nor were they suicidal (80%) because of their HIV status. In terms of marriage and having children; about half of the respondents cited that they decided not to get married (43.4%) or have (more) children (59.2%).