Catholic AIDS Response Effort (C.A.R.E.)
Mr Anthony Soo, President
Dedication to Patient Care and Support
The Catholic AIDS Response Effort was founded in 1992 with the Christian dedication of promoting the dignity of the human person. At CARE, this has been realised through the provision of holistic care in the form of spiritual, psychological, emotional, financial and physical support to people living with HIV/AIDS.
The CARE shelter home for male PLWHAs is the only one of its kind in Singapore. The shelter was opened in 2002 and has benefitted 140 homeless men who were abandoned by their families. Besides meals, lodging and financial needs, residents enjoy the companionship of staff and volunteers who journey with them to overcome their emotional and social issues. Many of these men have managed to re-integrate into society and live a fulfilling life.
Besides the shelter home, CARE has also been providing financial support to a group of non-residential beneficiaries who are staying either on their own or with families. This group includes female foreigners who are married to Singaporean males.
CARE also works with Catholic parishes and schools in raising the level of public awareness of HIV/AIDS and promoting greater compassion and understanding towards PLWHAs. Everything that CARE does is always in line with the Catholic ethos of embracing every human person in friendship regardless of their human condition. This has imbued in our residents love and compassion for their fellow PLWHAs.
Tzu Chi Foundation
Mr Low Swee She, CEO
Philanthropic Contributions to HIV/AIDS Care
With its principle of respect for life, the Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) has been offering patients living with HIV subsidies for AIDS medication since 1998, allowing them to remain in the workforce and to maintain their quality of life. The Foundation is currently the Communicable Diseases Centre’s largest sponsor for medication, and from 2009, it started extending assistance to prison inmates with HIV, providing them with subsidies for AIDS medication regardless of their ethnicity and religion. As of December 2015, 557 patients have received over 2.6 million n assistance funds.
Tzu Chi Volunteers also share Jing Si Aphorisms with inmates during their monthly visits, and many of the inmates are inspired to help others in need by making regular donations to Tzu Chi’s charity fund after their release. In addition, volunteers also impart knowledge on the prevention of AIDS to inmates just before their release, as well as promote environmental awareness and recycling at the Yellow Ribbon Run for three consecutive years, reducing the amount of trash generated from six tons to two tons.
A/Prof Lee Cheng Chuan
Dedication to Patient Care and Advocacy
Cheng Chuan was only the second doctor in Singapore to take on the specialty of HIV medicine. He received his specialist training in Chicago, and quickly established himself as an authority in HIV care. He is beloved by his patients for his clinical skills, warmth and compassion, and the extra mile he goes for them. The walls of his office are, quite literally, wallpapered with thank-you cards and letters from those whose lives he has touched.
Dr Lee is also committed to medical training and has received numerous awards for teaching excellence. He is known for his clear message that medicine is both a science and an art, his guidance has inspired many students and doctors to be compassionate, confident and humble. Dr Lee also trains volunteers from various organisations seeking to contribute to HIV/AIDS care.
Last but not least, Dr Lee Cheng Chuan’s name is synonymous with the work of HIV/AIDS advocacy in Singapore. Together with the HIV team at the CDC, he has been campaigning for affordable access to HIV treatment. This has resulted in the decision in 2010 granting financial assistance for antiretroviral therapy via Medifund for those most financially in need. He has advocated for the reduction of prices of HIV medicines by pharmaceutical firms. And as a long-standing member of the Executive Committee of Action for AIDS, he has lent his knowledge, time and energy to guide the organisation and strengthen the governance of AfA.
In his professional, personal and public life, Dr Lee has fought against both HIV/AIDS and the stigma and persecution faced by those living with it with passion and good humour. Dr Lee Cheng Chuan is an inspiration to all of us who have chosen a career in this field.
Dr Edmund Monteiro
Pioneering Work in Patient Care
Dr Edmund Monteiro was the pioneer in the field of HIV care in Singapore. At that time, in the 1980s he was already a well-respected physician in the Communicable Diseases Centre. His clinical acumen, compassion and empathy for patients made him an ideal physician to care for those first infected with HIV/AIDS in Singapore. At a time when to be HIV-positive meant to be faced with extreme physical suffering, crippling fear, social ostracization and almost certain death, Dr Monteiro was there to provide the medical care, he started the proud train of physician advocates that continues till today.
Dr Monteiro worked tirelessly until his retirement in 2004. His colleagues will never forget how, during the days of the SARS outbreak, he singlehandedly ran the outpatient HIV service in CDC, thus allowing other Infectious Diseases physicians to focus their attention of fighting SARS. He shouldered a task usually performed by many. In so doing, he not only ensured that those living with HIV/AIDS could continue to receive care, but also played a critical part of the fight against SARS.
Dr Monteiro’s career in HIV medicine is one for the history books. Thanks to his tireless work, many have been touched, including those whose lives he helped save from the ravages of HIV/AIDS; and those who have been inspired to follow in his footsteps and serve with compassion and humility.
Mr Avin Tan
Courageous Work in HIV/AIDS Advocacy
Mr Avin Tan’s journey as an AIDS advocate began 8 years ago when he was coordinator for AfA’s men-who-have-sex-with-men programme. Avin went on to become AfA’s Advocacy manager. That role entailed coordinating volunteer training, educational workshops for schools and organisations, he developed safer- sex education programmes and provided PLHIVs and young gay men with much needed information and support, and helped to source affordable anti-retroviral medications.
4 years ago Mr Avin Tan came out as a gay person living with HIV (PLHIV) in Singapore, he was the second person to do so. He has given numerous talks and media interviews, these often featured his personal journey as a person living with HIV in Singapore. Being an ‘out’ PLWHA has given Avin the credibility and authority to be an effective communicator in personalising messages on HIV prevention and treatment, addressing stigma and discrimination, overcoming self-stigmatisation, and mobilizing and empowering other PLWHAs to do the same. His selfless contribution to the cause is an inspiration to many of us. He has raised the awareness of issues faced by persons living with HIV in Singapore, and at the same time the level of acceptance of PLHIV.
Today, he continues to be a peer educator and supports individuals who are newly diagnosed.