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​​​​​​’They used to physically recoil’: How stigma around Singaporeans with HIV changed over the years (CNA article)

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​​​​​​’They used to physically recoil’: How stigma around Singaporeans with HIV changed over the years (CNA article)

 

Excerpts from CNA Article, 01/12/2023

Like time had stopped, the world had ended and everything was over.

That was how Mr Calvin Tan, then 19, felt when he found out he had contracted the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after having unprotected sex with a stranger.

He would spend the next two weeks grappling with shock as he waited for confirmation through a full blood test.

“It was the realisation that whatever I’d done in the past, it kind of accumulated to the moment of being diagnosed with a condition associated with years of stigma, discrimination, death and rejection,” said Mr Tan, who was studying in Singapore Polytechnic at the time in 2015.

He wondered how to get treatment without a source of income.

Should he tell his family and friends? Could he even get a job with his diagnosis? Could he reject his HIV-positive status and live in denial?

These questions ran through his mind, along with the starkest thought of all.

“Do I still want to carry on living? Because I did contemplate suicide back then,” he said candidly, over the phone.

Jump to 2022 and Mr Tan, now 26, has been open about his condition for more than four years.

There have been positive developments since his diagnosis, he told CNA ahead of World AIDS Day on Thursday (Dec 1, 2023). Most significantly: A reduction in stigma around those living with HIV, and more awareness of what it is.

Read more on CNA: ​​​​​​’They used to physically recoil’: How stigma around Singaporeans with HIV changed over the years (01/12/2023)