Monday, March 27, 2006

*Burr, it's just cold*

Don't read too much into the title, I'm just cold. I was planning to make some stupid word pun with the word Burr(ows) but I wasn't doing anything on trust and equity. So once again I trall TodayOnline in hopes of something to comment about. And I found an interesting letter that allows me to dwell not a good number of issues all at one time.

AIDS/HIV Carriers must Act Responsibly

Letter from Justin Kan Rui Liang

I-S Magazine recently published an article about an HIV-positive man who did not tell his sexual partners about his status as he thought that there was no need to since he took protective measures.

I was shocked because I know that it wrong to lie about one's HIV status, and also that wearing protective devices does not guarantee a person to be a 100-per-cent safe from HIV/Aids.

1. It is actually against the law not to inform your sexual partner that you have AIDS. The following is taken from the Infectious Disease Act (Cap. 137)

Sexual intercourse by person with AIDS or HIV Infection
23. —(1) A person who knows that he has AIDS or HIV Infection shall not have sexual intercourse with another person unless, before the sexual intercourse takes place, the other person —

(a) has been informed of the risk of contracting AIDS or HIV Infection from him; and

(b) has voluntarily agreed to accept that risk.

(2) Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.

(3) For the purposes of this section, a person shall not, only by reason of age, be presumed incapable of having sexual intercourse.

(4) For the purposes of this section and section 24, a person shall be deemed to know that he has AIDS or HIV Infection if a serological test or any other prescribed test for the purpose of ascertaining the presence of HIV Infection carried out on him has given a positive result and the result was communicated to him.

(5) In this section, “sexual intercourse” means —

(a) sexual connection occasioned by the introduction into the vagina, anus or mouth of any person of any part of the penis of another person; or

(b) cunnilingus.

Take note of sub-section 4 which lays out the statutory definition of when a carrier knows he/she has AIDS because as it stands there might be a possibility of tweaking it so as to make the law more effective without violating any person's rights through compulsory testing.

2. Yes, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing AIDS and STDs not due to the inefficacy of the condoms themselves (if you don't believe me, survivalist manuals will tell you that condoms work well as waterbags. And water molecules are much smaller than viruses) but due to human error. Which might mean that it may not be a bad idea to teach people the proper way of putting one on.

Many people do not use condoms while performing oral sex. Even if they do use condoms, its usage cannot guarantee full protection.

Ulcers and cuts are potential avenues for a person to get HIV/Aids.

Precisely! I'm glad that this particular message is getting out. The purdishness of abstinence only policies have led to the rise of "everything but (actual vaginal intercourse)" behavior in teens and could be tied to subsequent rises in STDs.

Many people, especially the young, are simply not educated enough when it comes to matters of sex. But while sex education should remain a priority, it is the mentality of the HIV/Aids carriers that we should be truly concerned with.

Err... True it's not mutually exclusive as he points out but the problem is that this letter does not dwelve sufficiently into the reasons why some of these carriers (assuming that they know they are carriers) have such a "devil-may-care attitude" that "allows HIV/Aids to continue spreading". However, one has to wonder the prevelence of these people leading to the increase in AIDS. There are the thrill seekers and the crazy, and there are the irresponsible like husbands passing it on to their wives.

How can the Government address this issue? One possibility is to organise a nationwide blood screening exercise to sieve the carriers and have them tagged.

But that would lead to cries of discrimination, which is something no one wants to bring about.

Tagging them? *Shudder* Having said which, I suppose that it MIGHT be possible to create a system that would allow potential partners to find out whether their sex partner has AIDS e.g. allocating a particular (secret) number to every person that would allow potential partners to find out through say a hotline or a secure site whether that person has AIDS. Confidentiality of that information would then allow the information to remain secret ala current law of confidence.

Interestingly enough, a compulsory testing scheme in Singapore would actually work because of our highly centralised system, medical care and NS in general.

The other way and the one that I proposed to the HC team when they did this motion was to advocate tweaking s. 25(4) such that a person is deemed to know that he has AIDS if he/she engages in risky sexual activity and does not take adequate precautions and go for regular testing. This prevents moral hazard in the sense that it would encourage and not deter anyone from finding out that they have HIV/AIDS as might be the case under status quo.

But will the HIV/Aids carriers be able to act responsibly and help stop the spread of the disease? Or will they continue to be irresponsible with their callous acts?

Gay or straight, everyone should play a part in the fight against HIV/Aids.

I don't know, is it me, or is this a tad alarmist? Oh well, decent letter I suppose.



At 9:23 AM, Blogger HIV+DaveyBoy said...

Seeking other HIV+/AIDS status people to chat about dealing with being "POZ", please drop in and visit me on ;)


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