Saturday , July 24 2021

Anger over the leak of HIV infection in conservative Singapore

Rico has been living with HIV for almost a decade, with only a small number of people in a socially conservative Singapore fearing a reaction. Last month, he received a phone call that information on his status was published online.

Rico was one of 14,200 people whose HIV status, name and address were dumped on the Internet by American men, who were supposed to trust that they had obtained confidential information from their partner – a senior Singapore doctor.

"The LGBT community is angry and disappointed over the whole trial," said Rico, who did not want to be identified with his full name.

The 31-year-old told AFP that he was afraid that "the information they revealed could change the perception of people for me," and added that he did not tell all his friends that HIV was positive.

"Society can be tolerant of the LGBT community, but I do not think they're ready to accept a gay and HIV-positive individual. Not in my life," he said.

While Singapore is modern in many ways, observers say that social attitudes have not progressed as quickly as economic development and are often very conservative, as in other parts of Asia.

Those in Singapore who have AIDS-related HIV virus have long complained about bias and advocates say that the negative reaction to data breaches has highlighted the stigma.

The head of the Human Resources Service, who works in the hospitality sector, was quoted in the local Straits Times newspaper, who said that he would forgave all his employees if their names were to be published.

The virus is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse or needle sharing and can not be spread through casual contact, such as stress or embrace.

For many people, HIV has not been allowed to enter Singapore for many years. In 2015, the authorities abolished the ban on foreigners, as viruses made short visits, and those who want to work in Singapore must still make a test.

A wealthy nation state with 5.6 million people is home to many overseas workers, from rich bankers to construction workers.


The destruction, which included data on 5,400 Singaporeans and 8,800 foreigners, has caused widespread concern. Sumita Banerjee, executive director of the Action for AIDS NGO (AFA), said that people with a virus called her group in tears.

"One of the main concerns is that employers, friends and family who are not aware of it can react poorly," AFP said, adding that some fear that they will lose their job.

In accordance with the guidelines of the health authorities, in general, there are no compelling reasons for the termination of HIV positive worker services solely because of their condition.

The Singapore authorities said they were rushed to block access to information that was dumped online, allegedly Mikhy Farrera Brochez, although they warned that it still has and could be released.

From the crash, local media reported that Brochez was arrested in the United States for allegedly unjustified entry into his maternity home, although the case does not appear to be related to the violation of the data.

In a conversation with Straits Times he protested about his innocence and described the reports about him as "terribly ugly and inaccurate".

HIV-positive psychologist Brochez first arrived in the city-state in 2008 and used the blood samples of his boyfriend, doctor Lerje Tecko Sianga, to test HIV and get a work permit.

Data on HIV-positive people from Ler who had access to the official HIV registry should receive.

In May 2016, during the housing investigation Brochez and Ler seized documents, laptops and mobile phones while receiving information that the Americans had confidential information.

Brochez was later imprisoned for false HIV infection, using false certificates for obtaining work and drug use.

In 2018, he was expelled from Singapore but was not known to the authorities, but he still had information about the virus that he later released.

The authorities did not offer any explanation as to why Brochez disclosed the information.

The government was exposed to fire due to leakage, another major violation of data, which was disclosed in a few months – last year, about 1.5 million Singaporeans were stolen in suspicion of health.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that the "well-being" of those affected by HIV data, their "priority" and offered support.

But for Rico, the damage has already been done and the fear is that some people with HIV will now refuse treatment due to security problems.

"I will not be surprised if the fear of people is underground," he said.

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