Together with a team of HIV specialist doctors, medical social workers and pharmacist, Fong Lin manages 200+ patients as an HIV care nurse in a training hospital in Singapore. Having worked with AIDSLink International for three years, she shares her insight about the situation of HIV and AIDS in South East Asia today…


“There seems to be great confusion about how to care for HIV-infected and affected people, and about taking a stand concerning LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] issues,” said Fong Lin from Singapore. “Due to stigma, discrimination, fear, misconception and moral views, many still struggle with acceptance, [and yet] the church has been very silent and slow to get involved.”

According to the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH), 469 Singapore residents were newly reported with HIV in 2012, 98% of which were through sexual transmission (heterosexual 47%, homosexual 45% and bisexual transmission 6%). Interestingly, 48% of the new cases already had late-stage HIV infection when they were diagnosed. This brings the total number of HIV infected Singapore residents to 5,775 (0,1% population).

In Malaysia, 2,504 people were newly reported with HIV infection last year, adding to the cumulative total of 94,841 HIV cases (0,3% population) in Malaysia in 2011. In contrast to Singapore, 53.2% of new infections in 2008 were amongst injecting drug users.

There is currently only one shelter in Singapore for homeless people who are HIV-positive, and this is run by the Catholic church. “A very small number of churches have ministry to support and care for those infected or affected by HIV and AIDS,” noted Fong Lin. “Many with HIV and LGBT issues are suffering quietly in the pews. Why?” 

As a nursing student, Fong Lin became interested in HIV-related issues and her calling was confirmed when she started working in this field full-time. Seizing all opportunities to equip herself for the role of caregiver, educator, advocate and friend of those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, she did the Channels of Hope (COH) course run by AIDSLink International and continued to work for them for the next three years.

“You do not need to be a medical person to do the COH course,” said Fong Lin, “nor do you need to know a lot about HIV. This course is for anyone who desires to experience the Father heart of God in reaching out to people living with HIV; it's about touching the hearts and souls of people living with HIV and allowing the compassion of Christ to compel us as disciples to make a difference to lives affected by the HIV pandemic. You will receive gems of material to run workshops and mini-talks for individuals or mass groups of people. I have used the course material to train medical and non-medical personnel, children, youth and migrant workers.”

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