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Tampin Clinic Gets WHO Recognition

20 Nov

TAMPIN: The Tampin Health Clinic has been recognised by the World Health Organisation for the management and implementation of its methadone replacement therapy programme.

The local district clinic emerged the top treatment centre for incorrigible drug addicts, beating 50 countries, including the United States, Europe, Africa, Australia and other countries in Asia.

Its Reduced Drug Dependence negotiation specialist, Dr Robert Power, said throughout his 23-year career, he found that the clinic here had the best management in implementing the programme compared with centres in 50 countries.

“The problems faced by clinics around the world are the same. There are no differences. But the Tampin Health Clinic has proved that they are able to overcome the obstacles,” he said after attending a briefing.

“The success of this centre should be an example to others and I will recommend centres abroad to visit the Tampin Health Clinic to learn from its experience.”
He added that he was very impressed with the teamwork shown by the clinic and its cooperation with various government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Also present were state Health Department deputy director Dr Omar Mihat and the clinic’s family medicine specialist Dr Norsiah Ali, who said the programme was initiated three years ago with 10 former addicts.

She said the figure increased to 121 participants with the cooperation of departments in the state such as the District Office, Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Veterinary Services Department and the district rehabilitation centre.

Dr Norsiah said the pioneer projects like the “Clean Needle Exchange” and “Free Condom Distribution” programme to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS began on July 14.

“To date, we have 29 participants in the programmes, of whom 52 per cent (15 persons) have stopped using needles, and are now under the methadone replacement therapy programme.”

New Straits Times

Singaporeans Knowledgeable About HIV/AIDS, But Stigma Remains

16 Oct

SINGAPORE : A nation-wide survey by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) showed that while Singaporeans are knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, they are less accepting of those with the disease.

In Singapore, HIV is mainly spread through sexual activity. Yet, only one in five of those who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour – such as those who engage in casual sex or have multiple sex partners – use a condom consistently.

Some groups are concerned that many do not understand the importance of condoms in preventing HIV transmission.

“Condom use is still very much a taboo subject in Singapore, and most of the general population would relate the use of condom as a form of contraception, as opposed to preventing HIV/AIDS or even sexually-transmitted infections,” said Lionel Lee, executive director for Action for AIDS.

With the rate of sexually-transmitted infections among youths also increasing, Action for AIDS said the need to promote condom use goes beyond HIV prevention.

The survey also found that one in three are unaware that a person can be HIV positive, and still look healthy and lead a normal life.

This is a serious misconception, because it may prevent people from going for regular screenings if they engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, or they may fail to protect themselves with the use of condoms, if their sexual partners look healthy.

The survey of 1,768 people showed that although 68 per cent of the respondents agree that they cannot get HIV by simply sharing a meal with an infected individual, only 22.4 per cent or one in five will do so.

In addition, only 18.2 per cent of respondents said they will buy food from a person whom they know is infected.

But the stigma appears less for close relatives, with 54.1 per cent or over half of the respondents saying that they will care for an infected family member.

“If people are more accepting towards people with HIV, then they are more likely, should they be at risk, to come forward for testing because they may not be so fearful of being discriminated against,” said Dr Chan Mei Fen, deputy director of Research and Evaluation Department at the Health Promotion Board.

According to Action for AIDS, one way to remove the stigma is to put a face to the disease.

While recognising that individuals may be reluctant to step forward, it said that it is an important first step, and government agencies can help ease the problems of discrimination.

Over 80 per cent of respondents knew of at least two of the following preventive measures – sexual abstinence, sexual monogamy and condom use. But the level of awareness was the lowest among those aged between 18 and 29.

The HPB said previous education campaigns had been targeted at older Singaporeans, and with the new information, future efforts may be better aimed at the different groups.

The HPB plans to launch a series of awareness efforts, including a concert next month to commemorate World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1.

The concert, called “Love Amplified”, will be held on November 29, in time for World AIDS Day. Other plans include a Chinese-language drama series titled “By My Side”, jointly developed with MediaCorp. – CNA /ls

Channel News Asia

Contraception Awareness Among Teenagers Severely Lacking

27 Sep

SINGAPORE : September 27 is World Contraception Day and some health groups in Singapore are taking the opportunity to call for improved education on the choices and usage of contraception, in light of increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections among teenagers.

It has been eight years since schools started teaching about sex and contraception but it seems students are still woefully ignorant.

In a survey of 240 youths aged 15 to 20, it was found that 30 per cent thought washing the genitals after sex could prevent pregnancy while 15 per cent believed urinating will do the same.

16 percent believed that exercising vigorously after sex will help shed off sperm, thus preventing pregnancy.

The survey, conducted by pharmaceutical company Bayer Schering Pharma and with doctors advising on the study, found that about 1 in 4 youths engage in sexual activity and about half of them are not using contraceptives.

Said Dr Janet Lee, a general practitioner at Temasek Medical Centre: “I do see teenagers with unwanted pregnancies, and a lot of times, they do not even realise that they are pregnant because it never occurred to them they can be pregnant through unprotected sex.

“Their mindset is that it will not happen to me… I think we need to educate youths about the importance of abstinence, and also educating them about condom use and contraceptive pills so as to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”

Teenagers account for about 12 percent of abortion numbers every year, and the number of teenagers with sexually transmitted infections has also doubled in the last decade.

The Ministry of Education has made it compulsory for all schools to have a sexuality education programme, but it seems the message is still not getting through to all teenagers.

Some said it’s because teachers gloss over sexuality education. Others feel teenagers may be too embarrassed to ask questions about sex in class.

“It is not just enough for the schools to be teaching, or for the VWOs to come in. They (teenagers) need to be guided to the right sources of information, and parents can also play a part to be more open, to encourage their teenagers to approach them if they have questions about sex. But I think this will take time, as we are still a pretty conservative society,” said Joanne Tan, spokesperson for the Singapore Planned Parenthood Association. – CNA /ls

Channel News Asia

More Youths Contract Sexually-Transmitted Infections

15 Sep

SINGAPORE: The number of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) among youths in Singapore has nearly doubled in the past ten years.

Latest figures by the Ministry of Health (MOH) showed that 418 of every 100,000 people aged 15 to 24 had contracted a sexually-transmitted infection, compared to 213 in 1998.

In the last five years, the number of females infected have outnumbered males. 479 females contracted STIs last year compared to 362 males.

A Students’ Health Survey, which was last conducted in 2006, also found that students as young as Secondary 3 and 4 have had sexual intercourse. And of these, 24 per cent were sexually active, having sex at least five times within 12 months.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan released these figures in Parliament on Monday in response to a written question from MP for Hong Kah GRC, Zaqy Mohamad.

Mr Khaw added that the National University of Singapore is conducting a survey to study the correlation factors, including the socio-economic and educational backgrounds.

He said there are programmes to address the rising trend, including working with youth organisations.

The Health Promotion Board also runs sexually-transmitted infections and AIDS awareness programmes. These are targeted at Secondary 3 students, covering issues such as abstinence and condom use. – CNA/vm

Channel News Asia

Cambodia Faces New HIV Threat As ‘Condom Campaign At Risk’

10 Sep

PHNOM PENH: Threats to a successful Cambodian condom campaign had raised fears the country could experience a second epidemic of the disease, health officials said Wednesday.

Tia Phalla, of Cambodia’s National AIDS Authority, said the country’s so-called 100 percent condom use programme, which provides sex education and distributes condoms to sex workers, “is facing difficulties” because of a new anti-sex trafficking law and lack of financial support.

Police began a crackdown on brothels after the new law was passed in February, which has reportedly forced prostitutes to leave condoms behind as they move from place to place.

“Enforcement of the anti-trafficking law harms the 100 percent condom use in brothels,” Tia Phalla told a three-day national AIDS conference in Phnom Penh.

The percentage of sex workers who consistently used condoms with clients had already begun to drop to 94 percent in 2007 from 96 percent in 2003, according to AIDS authority data.

Additionally, only six of the country’s 24 provinces and cities currently have funds to carry out the programme, Tia Phalla said.

“The main risk of a second wave of HIV infections occurring in Cambodia is from female sex workers, their clients and sweethearts,” said a statement by the AIDS authority.

Before the 100 percent condom use programme began, Cambodia’s overall HIV rate was the worst in the region, peaking at 3.7 percent of the population in 1997. Rates among prostitutes were estimated at 40 percent.

The aggressive condom and sex education campaign is believed to have helped drop Cambodia’s overall HIV prevalence to 0.9 percent.

– AFP/yt

Channel News Asia

Cambodia Faces New HIV Threat As 'Condom Campaign At Risk'

10 Sep

PHNOM PENH: Threats to a successful Cambodian condom campaign had raised fears the country could experience a second epidemic of the disease, health officials said Wednesday.

Tia Phalla, of Cambodia’s National AIDS Authority, said the country’s so-called 100 percent condom use programme, which provides sex education and distributes condoms to sex workers, “is facing difficulties” because of a new anti-sex trafficking law and lack of financial support.

Police began a crackdown on brothels after the new law was passed in February, which has reportedly forced prostitutes to leave condoms behind as they move from place to place.

“Enforcement of the anti-trafficking law harms the 100 percent condom use in brothels,” Tia Phalla told a three-day national AIDS conference in Phnom Penh.

The percentage of sex workers who consistently used condoms with clients had already begun to drop to 94 percent in 2007 from 96 percent in 2003, according to AIDS authority data.

Additionally, only six of the country’s 24 provinces and cities currently have funds to carry out the programme, Tia Phalla said.

“The main risk of a second wave of HIV infections occurring in Cambodia is from female sex workers, their clients and sweethearts,” said a statement by the AIDS authority.

Before the 100 percent condom use programme began, Cambodia’s overall HIV rate was the worst in the region, peaking at 3.7 percent of the population in 1997. Rates among prostitutes were estimated at 40 percent.

The aggressive condom and sex education campaign is believed to have helped drop Cambodia’s overall HIV prevalence to 0.9 percent.

– AFP/yt

Channel News Asia

Anti-Pope Fashion Parade Held Ahead Of Australian Visit

9 Jul

SYDNEY: Australians protesting against Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Sydney took a creative turn on Wednesday, staging a fashion show of T-shirts displaying anti-Catholic slogans.

The show, a response to new laws against causing “annoyance” to pilgrims attending Catholic World Youth day next week, came just a day after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called on all Australians to show the Pope respect.

“They are not from Milan,” acknowledged Rachel Evans, spokeswoman of the NoToPope group, as T-shirts featuring slogans such as “The Pope is wrong, put a condom on” were displayed outside the New South Wales state parliament.

Other shirts, which are selling for US$19, read “Pope go homo”, “There is no God” and “Does the history of your church annoy you?”

Among the most graphic was one featuring Benedict XVI standing with arms outstretched but with pointed, red devil ears and a tail superimposed on the image under the slogan “Chief Homophobe”.

NoToPope, a coalition including Christians, atheists and gay groups, was protesting at new regulations giving police power to stop conduct that “causes annoyance or inconvenience to participants” in World Youth Day.

Failure to comply with the laws can attract a penalty of up to $5,500, prompting one designer last week to come up with a T-shirt reading “$5,500, a small price to pay for annoying Catholics.”

Evans slammed the laws, which will be in force for the duration of the July 15-20 World Youth Day and may threaten a NoToPope rally planned for July 19, during which members plan to hand out condoms to pilgrims.

“This again is an attempt to intimidate people to not come to our rally and say their piece against the Pope,” she told reporters.

World Youth Day is a global celebration of the Catholic faith aimed at young people and is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of local and foreign pilgrims.

– AFP/os

Channel News Asia