Angry Doctor

Friday, May 02, 2008

Them 9

Alex Au of Yawning Bread has posted a new article on the increase in HIV/AIDS incidence and the amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act. The article contains much data and information and is well-worth a read.

Mr Au identifies moralisation of HIV/AIDS as one of the underlying problems with our HIV/AIDS programme, and doubts that legislation will make things better. angry doc tends to agree with him.

But whether or not one agrees with Mr Au's observations, one cannot deny that the data he has presented suggest that whatever Singapore has been doing to try to reduce the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS is not really effective, and that at the same time, some countries are in fact experiencing successs in their fight against HIV/AIDS. Perhaps there is a place on Earth where moralisation and/or legislation of HIV/AIDS will work, but so far Singapore doesn't look like that place.

Faced with the latest figures, angry doc feels that we should take a step back ask ourselves why we are failing. We should look critically at whether the programmes we seem to be pursuing currently have in fact been shown to be successful elsewhere in the world, and also look at programmes which have been shown to be successful.

We may want to consider evidence that "[p]rogrammes that exclusively encourage abstinence from sex do not seem to affect the risk of HIV infection in high income countries", and ask ourselves whether we should review the emphasis of our programme.

We may also want to look at the success Brazil has had, which is attributed to "its integrated approach of prevention, respect for human rights and to free of charge universal access to state of the art antiretrovirals", and ask ourselves if there is something we might learn there.

There is a lot more data out there to be looked at, and we should look at all the data and learn from them because HIV, being a virus, obeys the laws of nature and not moral or penal codes, and looking at the data objectively and scientifically may be our best chance of beating the disease.

5 Comments:

  • Like what Leng Hiong previously posted before on his blog, we should really just admit that pure abstinence is not working and we should be more progressive and explore how best to educate the public on the use of condoms etc.

    It is understandable that the religious lobby (a few religious-linked organisations that have been conducting sex-ed courses in our secondary schools come to mind) may be against this but from a public health perspective, it is the best way to progress.

    By Anonymous Edgar, At May 02, 2008 9:37 pm  

  • a gut feeling tells me that the reason why HIV rates are fast rising stems partially from the fact that singaporeans are too complacent. afterall, who would expect our HIV rates to be rising wiith vietnam's, whereas other countries like cambodia actually show improvement.

    It is quite obvious that there is mentality that promiscuous sex is okay in Singapore, afterall who would expect a virulent strain in my ANTISEPTIC country with CONSERVATIVE people who follow whatever the government advocates, really.

    the campaigns thus far have been too meek. I mean advocating abstinence or having faithful sex partners seem disturbingly odd. you are trying to erm, regulat the peoples' sexual behaviour? c'mon, you think theyd listen?

    atleast i wouldn't. there needs to be greater statistics published that highlight the severity of the situation and not mere passive statistics. show how we fare in comparison to cambodia, japan etc. then promote for active campaigns that encourage safe sex, not no sex.

    schools do have programmes whereby people with STDs give talks and share their personal journey through 'hell'. that was effective because it was real. we should not mask this phenomenon for fear of losing the sheen of being squeaky-clean and conservative. afterall, there wouldbe not much left to shine if we slip further down the velvet glove of fallacious thinking.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 04, 2008 11:59 am  

  • I agree let start by asking politely all those FT/FW guys and gals in geylang and joochiat to for a medical checkup.
    Quite simple really all that is needed is some blood sample. Simple procedure.
    Another question is Since they are seeking job opportunities here will it be okay if they take medical screening first(esp high risk country like say China,Africa)?
    Remember in term of safety:
    PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

    By Anonymous Onlooker, At May 06, 2008 12:01 am  

  • During the Blogger Forum on AIDS, I raised the question about the experience of other countries and one of the organizers immediately pointed out the successful programme (in particular the distribution of free condoms)in Brazil .

    Thus I believe that the government is well aware of the Brazilian strategy. Whether they will adopt their approach is another matter.

    By Blogger Lim Leng Hiong, At May 06, 2008 7:34 pm  

  • "Thus I believe that the government is well aware of the Brazilian strategy. Whether they will adopt their approach is another matter."

    I agree with you. Just look at the trip they made to Australia last year. The link to the Today article in my previous post is broken, but here's the CNA article:

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/293623/1/.html

    They know what work, but they are not implementing them because their concern is still "don’t upset the conservative majority".

    Anti-retroviral medication is still, as far as I know, unsubsidised, reaching out to gays is still difficult (and cable provider can get fined for depicting a happy gay couple adopting a child), and laws still discriminate against MSM (S377A and the recent amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act specifically labelling MSM as "high-risk").

    Well, while they are busy being "sensitive to the conservative majority", peole are catching and dying from HIV. But hey, they are gay, so who cares, right?

    (Yes, I am angry - see my nick.)

    By Blogger angry doc, At May 06, 2008 9:35 pm  

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