MARUAH Press Statement on World AIDS Day

Press Statement

World AIDS Day – December 1st, 2013

MARUAH recognises the importance of World AIDS Day On 1 Dec 2013. Together with the World Health Organization’s UNAIDS, we echo the call for zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS deaths.

Singapore has made considerable progress in recent years with the availability of Medifund resources for anti-retroviral medications. Medifund is available to those who have little or no income, and has benefited many of the neediest Singaporeans living with HIV/AIDS.

However, as a human rights organisation, MARUAH feels that there is still a lot more that needs to be done, not from a perspective of charity for the needy, but from the understanding that every person should have the same basic human rights.

In particular, we are concerned with the fact that the life saving anti-retroviral drug cocktail, which can cost between $600 and $800 a month, continues to be a challenge for many HIV-positive persons who do not qualify for Medifund, as none of the drugs are on the standard drug list, which means that they cannot be bought at subsidised rates. This is a lack of access to affordable drugs unique to HIV among all the major medical conditions affecting people in Singapore.

We are also concerned that the insurance policies including the national Medishield policy, continue to deny coverage for the overwhelming majority of AIDS-related conditions. This is also uniquely discriminatory against people living with HIV/AIDS.

We are deeply concerned over the potential human rights violations of patient confidentiality and privacy when foreign domestic workers and men enlisted into National service undergo the mandatory HIV test.

We oppose the ongoing ban on travel for HIV infected people coming in to Singapore. We feel that it is more important to enhance public education, make safe sex the norm in our society than to take on these measures of banning people or sending foreigners with HIV, back to their homes as soon as possible.

This World AIDS Day, we hope the government and people can take the opportunity to make Singapore a leader in the move towards zero in HIV and AIDS, and in that process be compassionate and non-judgemental respecting the rights of all.

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