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2024 Amendment to IDA: Experts Weigh In

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2024 Amendment to IDA: Experts Weigh In

The recent amendment to Section 23(1) of the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA) passed by the Parliament of Singapore has gotten some netizens up in arms. The amendment means that people living with HIV (PLHIV) who have undetectable viral loads are no longer required to inform their partners about their HIV status before sexual activity, since there is no risk of HIV infection.

Remember, UNDETECTABLE = UNTRANSMITTABLE, or U=U, means that PLHIV with undetectable viral load absolutely cannot sexually transmit HIV to other people. Much of the disagreements over the amendment stems from ignorance over this scientifically proven fact.

There is no evidence to prove that criminal penalties have helped reduce HIV transmissions. Instead, they have been counterproductive to public health goals by increasing stigma over HIV services and discouraging people from HIV testing.

Forced disclosure of HIV status also puts PLHIV at greater risk of marginalisation, discrimination, violence, and abuse. This is a human rights issue as much as it is a public health issue, and it is better addressed through increased accessibility to healthcare, testing, sex education, and STI prevention methods, not criminalisation or marginalisation.

The IDA in its previous iteration was also unbalanced in shifting the responsibility of HIV prevention on PLHIV, even if they were already undergoing treatment. HIV prevention is the shared responsibility of all partners. If you are HIV-negative, remember that you’re responsible for HIV/STI prevention as well! Stay educated on sexual health, adopt safer sex practices, and undergo screening regularly.

News Roundup: What HIV Experts Say

References with Links

The following links contain statements and commentaries from local HIV experts regarding IDA and why amendment is the right step towards ending HIV transmissions in Singapore.

Numbers in brackets (#) correspond to their position in the comic panel.

(1)  AfA Welcomes the Amendment to Section 23(1) of the Infectious Diseases Act – AfA official statement, 8/3/2024

(2) HIV disclosure law to be amended to exempt those with undetectable viral load if conditions are met – The Straits Times, 7/3/2024

(3) Law change in S’pore to nudge more with HIV to get tested, treated – The Straits Times, 30/3/2024

(4) Commentary: HIV treatments have evolved, the law needs to catch up – CNA, 10/1/2024

(6) People with HIV are struggling, but not because of the disease – The Straits Times, 2/4/2024

Resources on the topic of HIV decriminalisation in general global application:

(5) Global Commission on HIV and the Law – Executive Summary: