ST Online Forum: 'Bug chasers' or 'gift givers' will not be let off lightly by the gay community (Aug 2)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Aug 2, 2007
'Bug chasers' or 'gift givers' will not be let off lightly by the gay community

I REFER to the article, 'Bug chasing should be a crime' (ST, July 25).

I would like to point out the wrong characterisation of the man with HIV who was alleged to have intentionally tried to infect another gay man.

We are not aware of such a case. In fact, MOH has recently revealed that a heterosexual man acting as a 'bug giver' has been going round infecting women and the ministry is investigating him to identify grounds where he can be charged under the Infectious Disease Act in Singapore. This incident has nothing to do with MSM (men who have sex with men).

We have hardly come across any 'bug chasers' nor 'gift givers' in the MSM community in Singapore. As a Programme Director of Action for Aids spearheading the MSM programmes and working with various gay businesses and community groups on HIV prevention, I would like to say
that such behaviours would be closely watched and reported especially within the relatively small MSM community here. I personally do not think any 'bug chaser' or 'gift giver' would be let off easily by the community.

Proposing a law to criminalise and prosecute 'bug givers' will therefore not be of much use to contain the spread of HIV within the MSM community. What will be of much greater use is the urgent review and repeal of Section 377 and 377a of the Penal Code that criminalises homosexual sex in Singapore. These laws are obstacles to effective Aids prevention programmes in the following ways:

>>Discrimination against MSM
>>Absent or scanty information on MSM
>>Difficulty in reaching out to non-gay identified MSM
>>Inability to address the needs of young MSM
>>Censorship of MSM educational materials and events interference with gay businesses

Decriminalisation of homosexual sex will significantly enhance educational and behavioural change programmes. It will reduce stigmatisation of and discrimination against MSM as well as persons living with HIV infection. Decriminalisation is necessary if we are to have an effective HIV Control Programme in Singapore.

A more complete review of this matter is available online at
http://www.afa. 34/TheAct34. pdf

Paul Toh
Programme Director
Action for Aids Singapore