Do You Have HIV?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has become an epidemic in many countries, including Malaysia. Initially, HIV infection was mainly identified among persons who inject drugs (PWID). However, the demographic of infection has changed from predominantly PWID to persons who engage in unprotected sexual activities.

perubahan landskap hiv malaysia

According to the Country Progress Report 2019  – Malaysia [1], by the end of 2018, as many as 3,293 cases of new HIV were reported, with a notification rate of 10 per 100,000 (Figure 1). In Malaysia, there are 75,040 people living with HIV (PLHIV). About 90% of these PLHIV contracted HIV via sexual transmission! Of these, 14% (12,185) are unaware of their HIV statuses.


Potential Exposure to HIV

Looking at the above scenario, how are we sure that we are HIV-free? Or would you EVER have times when you are restless and doubtful over a potentially risky/accidental exposure? How do you know if you are infected with HIV? What is next if you are tested HIV positive?

We are here to help you on your doubts! FAQs below would provide you a one-stop solution to all your questions:


1. What is HIV and AIDS

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is virus that targets cells in body’s immune system. If HIV is left untreated, it leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) which is a condition of progressive immune system failure leading to increase in the risk of getting infected by pathogens and cancers.


2. How is HIV transmitted from one person to another?

It is what you do, not who you are, that increases your chances of contracting HIV. Most HIV are transmitted through unprotected sexual activity, sharing of needles, syringes, or other drug injection devices. In Malaysia, HIV is mainly transmitted via sexual intercourse (90%), followed by people using drug through injection [1].    


Here are some of the ways for HIV transmission routes:




Anal intercourse

Both receptive and insertive partner are at risk. Receptive partner has higher risk than insertive partner because of thin rectum’s lining and thus, it may allow HIV to enter the body during anal intercourse.  

Vaginal intercourse

Most women get HIV infection from vaginal sex. HIV can enter the body through the mucous membranes lining the vagina and cervix.

Oral intercourse

Little to no risk, however risk increases if there is presence oral ulcer, bleeding gums or genital sore.

Deep, open-mouth kissing

Very rare, but transmission could occur if partners have mouth sore or bleeding gums. HIV is not transmitted through saliva.

Sharing needles, syringes and other drug injection devices

HIGH RISK!! Sharing needles or other drug injection devices may contain HIV-infected blood, and HIV can be transmitted through these bloods from one to another.

Mother-to-child transmission

A common transmission of children getting HIV infection. HIV can be transmitted to her baby during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.

Occupational HIV transmission

Occupational injury caused by contaminated needles or sharp object.

Pre-chewed food

Transmission from HIV-infected caregiver to infant when caregiver feeds pre-chewed food to the infant.

How do I prevent from getting HIV?

Various solutions are used to prevent HIV transmission. Practice safe sex with the use of condoms, avoid sharing needles / syringes with others, or take HIV prevention medicine such as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) when you are at very high risk of getting HIV infection.

It is also important to know your HIV status upon suspicion of exposures. If you are being diagnosed with HIV infection, take preventive measure to prevent transmission of HIV to your partner, children, and others. With the current advent in medicine, HIV infection can be subdued via antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART is recommended for anyone diagnosed with HIV and the treatment should start promptly.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

You cannot diagnose HIV infection based on developed symptoms. 

Some people develop flu-like symptoms and some may not feel sick. People with symptoms developed within 2 to 4 weeks after exposures, these symptoms may last for a few days or several weeks. Possible symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers

How do I know if I have HIV?

You can only know your HIV status by getting a HIV test.

Where can I get tested for HIV in Malaysia?

Malaysian citizens can get a HIV test/ screening at government hospitals, health clinics / “Klinik Kesihatan” at no charge [4]. The service provided includes health education, counselling, psychosocial support, and treatment.

Can I do a HIV self-test?

Yes. You can purchase a HIV self-test device (no finger-prick required) or undergo an anonymous HIV test from the following clinic:

  • Dr Tan & Partners Clinic: Anonymous HIV test & OraQuick HIV Self-Test [5,6]

How often one should get tested for HIV and why?

It is recommended for a person to undergo HIV testing at least once a year. If you are a person sexually active, it is recommended to undergo HIV testing once every six months. HIV has a long window period of 3 weeks to 6 months in which the virus may stay undetectable by current available tests.

What should I do if I have HIV positive?

Get accurate information about HIV. This can be done through counseling with qualified doctors at: 

  1. the Infectious Disease Division at government hospitals

  2. Malaysian AIDS Council ( )

  3. Kuala Lumpur AIDS support Service ( )

  4. MyHealth KKM ( )

Is there a cure for HIV?

There is currently no cure for HIV infection. BUT with the right treatment and care, you can expect to live just as long and healthy as someone who does not have HIV.

About HIV treatment

A HIV-positive patient is treated with two groups of medicines.
One group of medicines is used to slow or even reduce the spread of the virus within the body. These are called antiretroviral treatment (ART).

The other group of medicines is used to fight illnesses caused by a weakened immune system. These are called medicines to cure or prevent opportunistic infections.

HIV-positive patients who begin HIV treatment on time will most likely never need to use the second group of medicines as HIV is inhibited before immune system is damaged. Hence, other possible opportunistic infections can be avoided [4].

Looking for HIV test kits?

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