Premarital HIV testing in Malaysia: a qualitative exploratory study on the views of major stakeholders involved in HIV prevention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: HIV screening has existed in numerous methods as an important part of HIV prevention efforts over the years. Premarital HIV testing for couples who wish to marry has been implemented in a number of regions, which often operate in a mandatory rather than voluntary basis and is considered a contentious issue, with viewpoints held in favour and against. One such region is Malaysia which has a policy of mandatory premarital HIV testing of prospective Muslim married couples. The purpose of this study is to understand stakeholders’ views on premarital HIV testing given the Malaysian Islamic context. Methods: 35 in-depth face to face semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key stakeholder groups involved in HIV prevention policy in Malaysia, namely, officials from the Ministry of Health, religious leaders and people living with HIV. Participants were recruited from the Klang Valley area, from July to December 2013, using purposive sampling techniques. Inclusion criteria necessitated that participants were over the age of 18 and provided full consent. Interviews were audiotaped, followed a standardised topic guide, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a framework analysis. Results: Participants identified pre-marital HIV testing as an effective HIV prevention policy implemented in Malaysia and was viewed, for the most part, as a positive initiative across all stakeholders. Religious leaders were supportive of testing as it provides a protective mechanism, in line with the teachings of the Shariah, while Ministry of Health officials considered it a normal part of their HIV prevention screening initiatives. However, there were concerns surrounding issues such as confidentiality, counselling and discrimination surrounding the test described by the PLHIV group. Conclusion: The findings of this study show that among the participants interviewed was strong support for mandatory premarital HIV testing, which could possibly expose the vulnerability to HIV, reluctance to test and other areas in the HIV response in Malaysia that need to be addressed. Furthermore, although international health organisations are vehemently against mandatory premarital HIV testing, the strong local support for such measures and the mismatch between these views is worth exploring in more detail, given the cultural, social and religious context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalBMC International Health and Human Rights
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2017

Fingerprint

Malaysia
HIV
Health
Interviews
Islam
Confidentiality
Counseling
Teaching

Keywords

  • HIV prevention, premarital
  • HIV testing
  • Human rights
  • Islam
  • Malaysia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

@article{35829d26fea54d5dbd1e756a0afdcd93,
title = "Premarital HIV testing in Malaysia: a qualitative exploratory study on the views of major stakeholders involved in HIV prevention",
abstract = "Background: HIV screening has existed in numerous methods as an important part of HIV prevention efforts over the years. Premarital HIV testing for couples who wish to marry has been implemented in a number of regions, which often operate in a mandatory rather than voluntary basis and is considered a contentious issue, with viewpoints held in favour and against. One such region is Malaysia which has a policy of mandatory premarital HIV testing of prospective Muslim married couples. The purpose of this study is to understand stakeholders’ views on premarital HIV testing given the Malaysian Islamic context. Methods: 35 in-depth face to face semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key stakeholder groups involved in HIV prevention policy in Malaysia, namely, officials from the Ministry of Health, religious leaders and people living with HIV. Participants were recruited from the Klang Valley area, from July to December 2013, using purposive sampling techniques. Inclusion criteria necessitated that participants were over the age of 18 and provided full consent. Interviews were audiotaped, followed a standardised topic guide, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a framework analysis. Results: Participants identified pre-marital HIV testing as an effective HIV prevention policy implemented in Malaysia and was viewed, for the most part, as a positive initiative across all stakeholders. Religious leaders were supportive of testing as it provides a protective mechanism, in line with the teachings of the Shariah, while Ministry of Health officials considered it a normal part of their HIV prevention screening initiatives. However, there were concerns surrounding issues such as confidentiality, counselling and discrimination surrounding the test described by the PLHIV group. Conclusion: The findings of this study show that among the participants interviewed was strong support for mandatory premarital HIV testing, which could possibly expose the vulnerability to HIV, reluctance to test and other areas in the HIV response in Malaysia that need to be addressed. Furthermore, although international health organisations are vehemently against mandatory premarital HIV testing, the strong local support for such measures and the mismatch between these views is worth exploring in more detail, given the cultural, social and religious context.",
keywords = "HIV prevention, premarital, HIV testing, Human rights, Islam, Malaysia",
author = "Sima Barmania and {Syed Junid}, {Syed Mohamed Al-Junid}",
year = "2017",
month = "5",
day = "10",
doi = "10.1186/s12914-017-0120-8",
language = "English",
volume = "17",
journal = "BMC International Health and Human Rights",
issn = "1472-698X",
publisher = "BioMed Central",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Premarital HIV testing in Malaysia

T2 - a qualitative exploratory study on the views of major stakeholders involved in HIV prevention

AU - Barmania, Sima

AU - Syed Junid, Syed Mohamed Al-Junid

PY - 2017/5/10

Y1 - 2017/5/10

N2 - Background: HIV screening has existed in numerous methods as an important part of HIV prevention efforts over the years. Premarital HIV testing for couples who wish to marry has been implemented in a number of regions, which often operate in a mandatory rather than voluntary basis and is considered a contentious issue, with viewpoints held in favour and against. One such region is Malaysia which has a policy of mandatory premarital HIV testing of prospective Muslim married couples. The purpose of this study is to understand stakeholders’ views on premarital HIV testing given the Malaysian Islamic context. Methods: 35 in-depth face to face semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key stakeholder groups involved in HIV prevention policy in Malaysia, namely, officials from the Ministry of Health, religious leaders and people living with HIV. Participants were recruited from the Klang Valley area, from July to December 2013, using purposive sampling techniques. Inclusion criteria necessitated that participants were over the age of 18 and provided full consent. Interviews were audiotaped, followed a standardised topic guide, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a framework analysis. Results: Participants identified pre-marital HIV testing as an effective HIV prevention policy implemented in Malaysia and was viewed, for the most part, as a positive initiative across all stakeholders. Religious leaders were supportive of testing as it provides a protective mechanism, in line with the teachings of the Shariah, while Ministry of Health officials considered it a normal part of their HIV prevention screening initiatives. However, there were concerns surrounding issues such as confidentiality, counselling and discrimination surrounding the test described by the PLHIV group. Conclusion: The findings of this study show that among the participants interviewed was strong support for mandatory premarital HIV testing, which could possibly expose the vulnerability to HIV, reluctance to test and other areas in the HIV response in Malaysia that need to be addressed. Furthermore, although international health organisations are vehemently against mandatory premarital HIV testing, the strong local support for such measures and the mismatch between these views is worth exploring in more detail, given the cultural, social and religious context.

AB - Background: HIV screening has existed in numerous methods as an important part of HIV prevention efforts over the years. Premarital HIV testing for couples who wish to marry has been implemented in a number of regions, which often operate in a mandatory rather than voluntary basis and is considered a contentious issue, with viewpoints held in favour and against. One such region is Malaysia which has a policy of mandatory premarital HIV testing of prospective Muslim married couples. The purpose of this study is to understand stakeholders’ views on premarital HIV testing given the Malaysian Islamic context. Methods: 35 in-depth face to face semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key stakeholder groups involved in HIV prevention policy in Malaysia, namely, officials from the Ministry of Health, religious leaders and people living with HIV. Participants were recruited from the Klang Valley area, from July to December 2013, using purposive sampling techniques. Inclusion criteria necessitated that participants were over the age of 18 and provided full consent. Interviews were audiotaped, followed a standardised topic guide, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a framework analysis. Results: Participants identified pre-marital HIV testing as an effective HIV prevention policy implemented in Malaysia and was viewed, for the most part, as a positive initiative across all stakeholders. Religious leaders were supportive of testing as it provides a protective mechanism, in line with the teachings of the Shariah, while Ministry of Health officials considered it a normal part of their HIV prevention screening initiatives. However, there were concerns surrounding issues such as confidentiality, counselling and discrimination surrounding the test described by the PLHIV group. Conclusion: The findings of this study show that among the participants interviewed was strong support for mandatory premarital HIV testing, which could possibly expose the vulnerability to HIV, reluctance to test and other areas in the HIV response in Malaysia that need to be addressed. Furthermore, although international health organisations are vehemently against mandatory premarital HIV testing, the strong local support for such measures and the mismatch between these views is worth exploring in more detail, given the cultural, social and religious context.

KW - HIV prevention, premarital

KW - HIV testing

KW - Human rights

KW - Islam

KW - Malaysia

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85019044491&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85019044491&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1186/s12914-017-0120-8

DO - 10.1186/s12914-017-0120-8

M3 - Article

C2 - 28490382

AN - SCOPUS:85019044491

VL - 17

JO - BMC International Health and Human Rights

JF - BMC International Health and Human Rights

SN - 1472-698X

IS - 1

M1 - 12

ER -