HIV Laws & Regulations To Know When In Singapore

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has been the talk of doctors for decades. Since it began spreading across the world in the 1980s, HIV has infected over 7 million people across the globe. Over 3 million have died to the infection. In Singapore, there are 400 newly diagnosed patients each year. This makes HIV pervasive in Singapore.

Most of the population here is aware that HIV is a potentially lethal virus. That is why many Singaporeans end up shunning and discriminating against those who are HIV-positive. HIV-positive individuals in Singapore have become afraid to reveal their status to those around them.

But what is perhaps more pressing to these individuals is that there are special laws that govern and restrict their sexual activity. These laws are still active and implemented today. In this short guide, we will break down these laws, in an attempt to shed a bit of light on what it really means to be HIV-positive.

The Infectious Diseases Act

Initially enacted in Parliament in 1976, the Infectious Diseases Act relates to the quarantine and prevention of infectious diseases in Singapore. Besides HIV, this Act also encompasses other life-threatening diseases such as Dengue Fever, Hand Foot and Mouth Disease and Zika.

However, there is an entire section on HIV that was added into the Act in January 2016. The section, titled “Control of AIDS and HIV Infection”, governs five areas of concern regarding people living with HIV. The primary ones that greatly affect HIV positive individuals are those that dictate counselling requirements, sexual activity and blood donation activity.

Counselling requirements

An HIV positive individual may be required by the Director of Medical Services to attend counselling at government-recommended healthcare institutions such as hospitals. Patients must understand and comply with specified precautions and safety measurespresented to them during these counselling sessions to prevent further spread of the disease. It is also worthwhile to note that these counselling sessions are paid at the expense of the patient.

Failure to comply could result to a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to 2 years or both.

Sexual activity

Patients with HIV are not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse – whether consensual or not – unless the other party has been informed of the patient’s HIV status and is willing to accept the risk of being infected with HIV.

If a person is unaware of their HIV status, but has reason to believe that they could have HIV, they must do one of the following:

  • Disclose their potential status and have their partner accept the risk
  • Have previously gotten a HIV test
  • Take reasonable measures to prevent potential transmission of HIV (e.g. by wearing a condom)

Failure to comply could result to a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment of up to 10 years or both.

Blood donation

All HIV-positive individuals are not allowed to donate to any blood bank in Singapore or otherwise perform any act which is likely to transmit HIV to other individuals, such as the sharing of unsterilised needles.

Failure to comply could result to a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment of up to 10 years or both.

Conclusion

HIV positive Singaporeans face laws that do greatly restrict their everyday activity. That is why Singaporeans who suspect that they do have HIV refrain from getting tested at polyclinics and government hospitals. Instead, they prefer confidential testing at a private HIV clinic.

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