Larry’s View

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Health authorities and MSM community must co-operate to combat HIV in singapore

December 15, 2007
health authorities and MSM community must co-operate to combat HIV in singapore: minister balaji
By Sylvia Tan
 
Citing Sydney’s success in reducing HIV prevalence rates among MSM, Dr Balaji Sadasivan urged for greater co-operation among health authorities, the NGOs and the MSM community to reduce HIV infection rates.
 
 
Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on HIV/AIDS, urged for greater co-operation among health authorities, the NGOs and the MSM community to reduce HIV infection rates.

The Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Information, Communications and the Arts was the guest of honour at the HOPE (HIV Outreach: Prevention & Empowerment) concert held at the Kreta Ayer People’s Theatre on Thursday night.

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Los Angeles-based gay Christian pop duo and real life couple Jason and deMarco was barred by the Singapore authorities from performing in 2005.

According to organisers, the event which featured Los Angeles-based gay Christian pop duo and real life couple Jason and deMarco, and local performers including John Lee, Hossan Leong, Selena Tan, nominated Member of Parliament Eunice Olsen, and hosts Chua Enlai and Mistevious.

“We have waited two years for this,” quipped Jason, one-half of the duo who was barred by the Singapore authorities from performing in 2005. Concert organisers Safehaven, a ministry of gay-affirmative Free Community Church, had tried to organise a similar event with the duo but had their application turned down by the Media Development Authority.

The number of new HIV infections is on rise with an estimated 30 percent of the 356 newly detected cases of HIV cases between January and October this year contracted through male-to-male contact. The number will surpass last year’s record of 357 of which 26 per cent were MSM.

The former Senior Minister of State for Health told the audience that there has been a resurgence in the prevalence rates of HIV among MSM communities in the west while in some Asian cities, one in four MSM are testing positive for HIV. He cited Sydney as an example of a city which has bucked the trend and which Singapore can take lessons from.

“In Australia… particularly the city of Sydney, the prevalence of HIV has been low and what is more remarkable it has been going down in the MSM community over the last decade,” he said.

“The way they seem to have achieved this is through co-operation between the health authorities, the NGOs and the MSM community working together to create a culture of safer sex and regular HIV testing. If we can follow the Sydney model in Singapore and work together – the health officials, the NGOs and the MSM community – there’s no reason why we cannot achieve what they have done in Sydney – low prevalence rate, in fact, decreasing prevalence rate.”

In July this year, Dr Balaji had gone on a study trip to Sydney, accompanied by health officials and representatives from AFA, Fridae and Oogachaga, a gay and lesbian affirmative counselling agency.

Although it was not advertised in the programme, People Like Us – a group dedicated to public education and equal treatment for gay and lesbian citizens – took the opportunity to honour Reverend Dr Yap Kim Hao with the inaugural PLU (People Like Us) Dignity Award.

Reverend Yap, who currently serves as Pastoral Advisor to the Free Community Church, is known to be an outspoken supporter of the LGBT community – speaking publicly and writing frequently to the press.

The 78-year-old told Fridae in an interview: “I have been doing what comes ‘naturally’ in my continuing concern for the minorities who are being discriminated because of their race, religion, economic condition, gender and sexual orientation. It is my conviction that God loves and cares for such people more because they are being ‘sinned against’ by those who are politically powerful and economically dominating.”

“The gathering of over 900 predominantly LGBT people at the Hope concert with (mostly) gay talented artistes is a significant milestone in the struggles for gay acceptance in what has often been regarded as a conservative Singapore society. It is to pledge to combat HIV/AIDS and to engage in safe and responsible sex. To be safe is to be responsible for we have to do what we believe to be morally right for ourselves, partners and human community.” ae

 
Related Articles
gay pop duo jason and demarco to perform in singapore, dec 13
Related Sites
Hopeconcert.com
 
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December 18, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Gay General, Gay Issue & Rights-Overseas | Leave a comment