Multi-ethnic perspective of uptake of HIV testing and HIV-related stigma: a cross-sectional population-based study

Li Ping Wong
AIDS Care 2013, 25 (11): 1356-69
The objective of this study was to identify demographic characteristics and correlates of the uptake of HIV testing, willingness to be tested and perceived HIV-related stigma of Malaysian lay public. A cross-sectional computer-assisted telephone interview survey of a representative sample of multiracial Malaysians aged 18 years and above was conducted between December and July 2011. The survey collected information on demographics, knowledge about HIV transmission and religious beliefs on attitudes to HIV/AIDS. A total of 2271 households were successfully interviewed. The response rate was 48.65%. The HIV transmission knowledge score ranged from 0 to 15 (mean =10.56; SD±2.42). Three of the most common misconceptions about HIV transmission were mosquito bite (42.8%), eating in a restaurant where the cook is HIV positive (20.4%) and using a public toilet (20.1%). Only 20.6% reported ever having been tested for HIV, 49.1% reported a willingness to be tested for HIV and 30.3% had no intention of getting an HIV test. Low-risk perception (63.7%) constitutes a major barrier to HIV testing. Being Malay and Chinese (relative to Indian) were the strongest predictors of low-risk perception. Other significant predictors of low-risk perception were being male, being married and living in an urban locality. Perceived self-stigma if tested positive for HIV was prevalent (78.8%). Multivariate findings showed that being female, Malay, low income, living in rural localities and public stigma were significant correlates of self-stigma. These findings warrant interventions to reduce the disproportionate HIV transmission misconception, barriers to HIV testing and stigma and discriminative attitudes to involve considerations of sociocultural economic and demographic characteristics.

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