TTSH in drive to fight HIV stigma

SINGAPORE - It aims to educate the public on HIV and reduce the stigma faced by those who live with it, and encourage Singaporeans to be more empathetic towards them.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) yesterday launched its first awareness campaign, called The Power to Change is Within You, to address these concerns.

Speaking at the launch event held at the hospital yesterday, Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor said: "Stigma and discrimination create an unnecessary barrier to the early detection and treatment of at-risk individuals."

"People living with HIV...are just like you and me - people with talents, abilities, hopes and aspirations, and they can live normal lifespans with the help of medication."

The hospital-wide campaign aims to target three groups: those living with HIV, the hospital's health-care workers, and the public.

The campaign will involve the use of large banners, posters, and wall stickers incorporating individual stories displayed across TTSH and its clinics.

It will also showcase positive experiences of HIV patients and health-care workers who have cared for them.

An exhibition will also be held at the TTSH atrium until Friday.

According to the Ministry of Health, 50 per cent of the 385 new cases of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - which causes Aids - reported among Singapore residents from January to October this year were late-stage infections.

The campaign was launched to commemorate World Aids Day - an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against Aids - held on Dec 1.

"In order for them (HIV patients) to return for care and treatment so they can live long lives, we want to look into reducing stigma," said Mr Roy Ngerng, an HIV programme coordinator from TTSH's Communicable Disease Centre.

"A lot of times, people living with HIV...think that because other people stigmatise them, this makes it real and they start to stigmatise themselves too," he added.

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