“You Have to Keep Yourself Hidden”: Perspectives From Malaysian Malay-Muslim Men Who Have Sex With Men on Policy, Network, Community, and Individual Influences on HIV Risk

Sin How Lim, Shan Estelle Brown, Stacey A. Shaw, Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Frederick L. Altice, Chris Beyrer

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Malay-Muslim men who have sex with men (MSM) are marginalized and hidden in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country in southeast Asia. We explored the policy, network, community, and individual factors related to HIV infection among Malay-Muslim MSM through 26 in-depth interviews and one focus group discussion (n = 5) conducted in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Bharu between October 2013 and January 2014. As religion plays an important role in their lives, participants viewed homosexuality as a sin. Low risk perception and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS were common, and most participants expressed reluctance to consult a doctor unless they had symptoms. Additionally, buying condoms was embarrassing and anxiety-producing. Fear of discrimination by health care providers and community hindered participants from disclosing sexual behaviors and accessing health services. Homophobic comments and policies by the government and religious leaders were concerns of participants. A safe and enabling environment is needed to reduce HIV risks among Malay-Muslim MSM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-126
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • discrimination
  • homosexuality
  • Malay-Muslim
  • stigma

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