Aim. This paper reports a study aimed at identifying the primary health care experiences of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Malaysia. The rationale behind the study was to enable informed action for developing more responsive and effective primary care.
Background. Reports such as from the World Health Organisation forecast sharp escalations in the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific region within the next few years. With sparse information on the course of infection on the local population and an understanding of health care needs of those afflicted, health services would be ill-prepared for projected increases.
Method. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 99 patients attending two major HIV/AIDS clinics in Malaysia.
Findings. Several gaps in care provision were highlighted, such as with treatment/consultation facilities and availability and accessibility of information. What is also evident is that there are a number of good support services available but not well publicized to those in need of them. That includes health professionals who could be making appropriate referrals. The lack of communications and inter-professional working appears to be part of the problem.
Conclusion. The findings provide baseline data and preliminary insights to government and other service providers towards advancing, optimizing and refining existing policies and infrastructure. Although the availability of a number of primary care facilities have been identified, the study indicates the need for more effective co-ordinated efforts with clear leadership to pull together scarce resources towards the aim of some degree of seamless primary care provision. It is suggested that nurses would be well placed for such a role in view of the nature of their education and training that helps prepare them for the multi-faceted role.