HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination (S&D) among Healthcare Workers (HCW) in Government Healthcare Facilities in Malaysia: Is It Real?

  •  Zailatul Hani Mohamad Yadzir    
  •  Mazliza Ramly    
  •  Anita Suleiman    


Stigma and discrimination (S&D) undermine quality of life of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their access to health services. In this context, an understanding of current stigmatizing attitudes among HCW towards PLHIV from the perspective of Malaysia healthcare setting is crucial to plan for service delivery improvement that is non-stigmatizing and non-discriminatory. The objective of this study was to examine and measure the level of S&D towards PLHIV among HCW in selected government facilities.

A cross-sectional study was undertaken from July to August 2020 in five government hospitals and six government health clinics in Malaysia. Two sets of a validated self-administered questionnaires, one for HCW and another one for PLHIV were used to assess HIV-related S&D. This survey was conducted via web-based platform.

Overall, 3880 HCW and 1173 PLHIV participated in this study. This study found significant proportion of HCW were having stigmatizing attitudes towards PLHIV. This includes fear of taking blood from PLHIV (87%) and double gloving when attending PLHIV (64%) probably due to fear of contracting HIV. In addition, 45% of HCW agreed that women living with HIV (WLHIV) should be prohibited from having children. Although HCW have fears for contracting HIV, their consciences and integrity allowed them to display some positive attitudes towards PLHIV with the majority of HCW 84% and 79% stated that they having observed others in their facility expressed willingness to care and providing good care to PLHIV. On PLHIV experience, only 12% of them reported that they had ever experienced stigma when accessing health services.

The findings of this study shared a worrying magnitude of stigma towards PLHIV among HCW in Malaysia. Nevertheless, ethics and professionalism are upheld through giving good care and services to PLHIV. However, stigma reduction intervention programmes are still needed for HCW to ensure continuous excellent service delivery.

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