Can't get rid of HIV-related stigma

File photo showing test tubes with blood samples. MOM has not received any past complaints or appeals against wrongful dismissal based on an employee's HIV status.
File photo showing test tubes with blood samples. MOM has not received any past complaints or appeals against wrongful dismissal based on an employee's HIV status.PHOTO: ST FILE

Although there are laws to protect HIV-positive local employees from wrongful dismissals, the aftermath can have far-reaching implications (MOM: HIV-positive staff protected from wrongful dismissal; Jan 31).

First, how can we be assured that employers will not find fault or make life difficult for the victims so that they resign voluntarily?

Second, what about the workplace stigma? How are we to be sure that it will be business as usual in the office in terms of how the victims' colleagues treat them?

With technology, it is only a matter of time before the entire office finds out about the victims' HIV history.

It is important to understand that many of these victims may not have even told their families and close friends of their condition.

It is easy to apologise and undertake remedial work, but the stigma will remain permanently.

It is natural for people to think that those who deal with sensitive matters, such as healthcare service providers, would have robust security systems to protect their confidentiality.

The Ministry of Health needs to show that it understands the seriousness of data protection.

With the latest breach, there is also much apprehension about the National Electronic Health Record system.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2019, with the headline 'Can't get rid of HIV-related stigma'. Print Edition | Subscribe