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7 Things you need to know about HIV in Singapore

Posted 26 May, 2016 by Clearly
in Educate Yourself

 

The three most dreaded letters, and the stuff of nightmares.

We are not talking about ERP here, but rather HIV.

Ever since its discovery on the world stage in the 1980s, HIV has continued to plague us for lack of a known cure.

We go on a deep dive to uncover some 7 of the most important yet surprising things we may not know about HIV in Singapore.

 

 

1. Being HIV positive does not mean AIDS

 

Same same, but different?

Same same, but different?

 

For the longest time, HIV was synonymous with AIDS. What is the difference between those two, other than their spelling?

For one, HIV refers to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is a virus. Much like one of the 200 viruses that can cause a cold. (In fact one of the symptoms of HIV is flu).

AIDS, however, refers to a state of a human body which is rendered so weak and thus unable to fight off many common illnesses (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrom).

HIV used to be lumped together with AIDS as an inseparable and interchangeable pair, but think of AIDS as a late, late stage of a HIV infection.

These days, with early treatment, most people with HIV will not acquire AIDS. This is because their immune system can be kept bolstered with regular medical care, so much so that AIDS will not set in.

 

2. A HIV positive person can have a relatively normal life

 

Business as usual, a run in the park

 

Oh, the wonders of scientific advances! These days, being diagnosed with HIV no longer equates to an automatic death sentence.

The life expectancy of HIV carriers continues to increase, and a study has shown that for young people (if diagnosed and treated early), their life expectancy is well into their 70s.

Of course, being HIV positive means that a person is more susceptible to other illnesses and diseases, but as we uncover more and more information about how the HIV spreads and affects the body, there is a reasonably high standard of living to be expected even for carriers.

 

3. Singapore used to deport HIV-positive foreigners – but not anymore

 

No entry no more

 

Since the discovery of HIV on the world stage in the 80s, Singapore implemented a total ban on foreigners with HIV (no visiting Haw Par Villa or Sentosa for them).

So why the draconian measure? Back in the day, HIV was newly discovered, and more importantly, it had no known cure – it still has no known cure, but more of that later.

In recent years, we have been able to control and suppress the virus (though not eradicate it fully from the body), which explains a more tolerant stance of Singapore these days.

However, it is important to note that only the short term visitors are allowed to visit. Those with long term passes are still subjected to this ban.

Calls for even more tolerance are being made and we could see the ban lifted totally in the future.

 

4. HIV patients can purchase insurance – just not in Singapore (yet)

 

I'll take 2 policies please

I’ll take 2 policies please

 

One of the titans in the insurance world (Prudential) made news late in 2015 by being the first company to offer insurance plans to HIV patients.

 

“With advances in the successful treatment of people with HIV, we are now able to offer this population the opportunity to apply for life insurance—a milestone we see as a significant step in the right direction,” said Mike McFarland, vice president, underwriting for Prudential Individual Life Insurance

 

That’s great – if you are living in the United States. As of now, Prudential Singapore does not offer any such plan or coverage for HIV patients.

In Singapore, insurance coverage generally excludes HIV infections and its symptoms. For those that do, the policies provide some limited coverage but it only includes transmission via health care work, not via sexually transmitted means. (which accounts for nearly 100% of the method of transmission here in Singapore)

But don’t lose hope.

The newly minted CPF Medishield Life covers HIV patients and their medical claims (HIV related or otherwise), though at a higher premium.

It could just be a matter of time before the private insurers get in on the act as well.

 

To address any potential Critical Illness protection shortfall on your own, check out FWD Insurance. They have a fully online and hassle free purchase experience.

 

5. Chance of encountering a HIV patient in Singapore: 1 in 826

 

Spot the main character

Spot the main character

 

As of Ministry count in 2014, there were about 6685 Singapore residents diagnosed with HIV. Given that our population is about 5.5 million give or take, this means that there is one person among 826 that is carrying the virus.

For the first 10 months of 2015, there was a total of 380 new cases of HIV reported. In almost all the cases, the virus was acquired via sexual transmission – 38% heterosexual, 50% homosexual, 10% bisexual.

If you didn’t know already, use a condom if you engage in risky sexual activity. (and we don’t mean doing the dirty on a tightrope)

 

6. HIV Patients can have kids

 

Yes, it is totally possible

Yes, it is totally possible

 

We can hear you screaming “whaaaaat” from way back here. Calm down, and take a moment. Yes, its possible. Let us state it out here.

HIV patients can have a baby. Without undue risk of transmitting the virus to the child. This works both ways for males and female virus carriers.

For positively identified females, there is medication available to suppress the risk of transmission to the baby (under 1% chance).

For the positively identified males, there are procedures to remove the HIV virus from the semen – making transmission to the baby impossible.

Life finds a way.

 

7. Medical advances are getting us closer to a functional cure

 

This could be a reality soon. Exciting times!

This could be a reality soon. Exciting times!

 

While there is still no known cure for HIV, we do know alot about the roadblocks to the cure – and hence researchers can pick apart and remove them.

The reason HIV is so hard to treat is because it almost plays hide and seeks with us in the body. The virus can “deactivate” and then go into a dormant state in the body – rendering it almost impossible to find, and thus to destroy.

The first step of the way seems to be developing agents that are capable of awakening – and thus discovering the location of the virus, which makes destruction so much easier.

The second step is also figuring out how to make the medication “remain” in the body long enough so that it catches those viruses still playing the hide and seek game.

With each year that passes, new discoveries continue to be made and we may one day be in possession of a real, functional cure to this dreaded virus.

 

We hope this article sheds a new light and a new perspective on what we know as HIV.

Share it with your friends and family!

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

  1. Avin Tan

    Great article. Thank you very much. There’s still plenty of misconceptions about what HIV and AIDS is, and how it affects those living with it or affected by it.

    Persons living with HIV/AIDS or PLWHA or PLHIV should always be the term or acronym to use.

    We should never be referred to as patients unless we are actually one, or worst ‘sufferer’.

    Never ever address a person living with HIV a sufferer. We live, very normal lives, we work, we start families, we eat the same food, we walk the same earth. We are not suffering from it, and refuse to allow a chronic illness affect our lives to a point where we are suffering.

    1. Clearly *

      Hello Avin!

      It is a great pleasure to have your comments! This article was inspired by yourself and other brave souls who speak up so others may be more well informed.

      Cheers!
      Clearly Surely

    2. Aubrey Carson

      Thanks to Dr.sidoma for curing me from this HIV, i was diagnosed with it since 2017 i have been thinking about my life because i feel i am just dead already because i believe there is no cure for the virus, thank to doctor sidoma for his herbal medicine which i took for 3 week according to his instruction i am writing this out for people to have the faith they will be cured also because due to what i have see i have believe there is cure, a friend of mine who introduce me to this Dr and he give me his contact which is DR.SIDOMAHEALLINGHOME@GMAIL. COM i contact this man with this email and explain my problem to him and he give me the confidence not to worry about the virus that he will help me i was so surprise because i never believe there is cure, this man send me the herbal medicine which i have within 5 days and he also give me the instruction how to take the medicine which i do i am so happy to have my negative result now you can also contact him now DR.SIDOMAHEALLINGHOME@GMAIL. COM if you need cure to any sickness like…Cancer, Low sperm count,Hpv, Herpes.Hepatitis,Syphilis,Diabetes he also have the herbal that can cured it

    1. Surely

      Thank you for the input
      We are aware of the difference but it is not the focus of this article.

      For our readers who are confused, Prudential Financial and Prudential UK are two separate entities.
      One may differentiate them by their logo.
      The insurer in SG is the UK one.

  2. Sheldon

    Julian,

    One can reasonably postulate that you were dropped as a child. More than once.

    Any person not suffering from acute brain damage can sense that the article is educating the readers about HIV, not the company structure of Prudential.

    In the specific paragraph, there was no mention about neither Prudential entity, except that insurance for HIV is available for purchase in the US. The article neither confirms nor denys the existence of Prudential US nor UK, except that such insurance is still not available in Singapore.

    Out of all the better things to comment about, you chose to make the most irrelevant comment possible. While you are factually correct, you are contextually irrelevant, socially clueless and hence we can all safely conclude:

    You are a waste of air

  3. Sad Couple

    Hi All,
    Nice reading all the positive and encouragement regards to HIV…my wife and me were shock today on the breaking news,is there any blogs or forum or even link to such community where me and my wife communicate or even shared to our heartfelt?Thanks

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