S'pore man's triple HIV blow

In 2007, Johnny met his wife who was then working in a Vietnamese restaurant here. They fell in love and registered their marriage here in 2009.

His wife stopped working and had to return to Vietnam. When she returned to Singapore, she had to keep applying to extend her social visit pass.

Last year, Johnny tried to apply for a long-term immigration pass for her.

"I had been married for two years, but my wife and I had very little time together after our marriage. She had to live in Vietnam and me, in Singapore," he said.

She underwent a medical examination, which included a general physical examination, a chest x-ray and an HIV test.

That was when it was found that she was HIV positive.

Said Johnny: "We were shocked to get the medical test result. But we thought that since we have already registered our marriage, and were recognised as husband and wife by the law, she would be allowed to stay here with me. Moreover, she was already pregnant with our first child.

"I did not know that those who are HIV-positive would not be granted a long-term immigration pass.

"We went to see an ICA officer and submitted my wife's application together with her medical examination results."

But the application was rejected.

"The officer told us that he could not extend her stay here and she had to leave Singapore. We were disappointed," he said.

Johnny then arranged for his wife to return to Vietnam.

A month later, he flew to Vietnam to try to bring her back to Singapore. But his wife was stopped and denied entry at the immigration checkpoint at Changi Airport because of her illness, Johnny said.

"She was sent back to Vietnam the following day," he added.

She returned to live with her parents in Vietnam and gave birth to their son there.

For the past nine months, Johnny said he has had to shuttle between Singapore and Vietnam to spend time with his family.

He said that he was busy with work and travelling between the two countries, and did not think of going for an HIV test himself.

"At that time, I thought that since we're already married, it didn't really matter if I have the disease. I was more concerned for her," Johnny said.

"I wanted to earn more money to provide a good life for my family in Vietnam. I never thought she would die suddenly."

Two months ago, Johnny's wife came down with a fever and had to be hospitalised.

She called Johnny from the hospital and reassured him that she would be fine.

But Johnny was worried and booked the next available flight to Vietnam. He got there the next day, but his wife had died by the time he rushed to the hospital. He said the cause of his wife's death was listed as tuberculosis.

"My wife is gone now, I have to bring up my son on my own. And I wanted to bring him back to Singapore and raise him here," Johnny said.

"But because we didn't register our marriage in Vietnam, I had to prove to the authorities there that I am the father of my son."

Last month, Johnny and his son under went a DNA test to prove their kinship.

The result confirmed that Johnny is the father.

But the results also showed that both father and son are HIV positive.

"I was shocked. My whole world came crumbling down. I really don't know what to do now," said Johnny, fighting back his tears.

For now, he hopes to apply for a passport for his son andbring him back to Singapore.

This article was first published in The New Paper.


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