In our fourth empowerment workshop, powered by AWARE and taught by Action For Aids (AFA), we learned about HIV and a little on other STIs.
The trainers gave vital information on possible modes of transmission, vulnerable sexual positions, prevention and treatment of HIV, and using the correct terms when speaking to people living with HIV. The basic takeaway is that you should definitely aim to have a routine HIV screening every 3 to 6 months, more frequent if you are in the high risk groups.
The workshop highlighted prevention, with Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and immediate treatment, with Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PrEP comes in two versions, daily dosage, taken daily, and on-demand dosage, taken days before a planned sexual encounter. PrEP can increase protection by 92% but does come with possible side effects so it is necessary to do a body checkup before you can get a prescription.
In cases where you suspect you may have had a sexual encounter with someone with HIV, like in the case of rape, you should visit the DSC Clinic in Singapore or STI clinic in your country to get PEP. Where it is not possible to get immediate help, you should go to any emergency hospitals and request for dosage of PEP sufficient for twice daily treatment till you can visit an STI clinic. If you seek immediate treatment, the chance of preventing HIV is as high as 86%.
Even while on PrEP, you should always practice safe sex. PrEP only prevents HIV transmission, there are still many other STIs that can be transmitted through unprotected sex. There are some positions that leave you vulnerable and unable to see if your partner is using a condom, such as the doggy position. Take precaution yourself and ensure you can see a condom being used.
Living with HIV no longer has to be a death sentence. By showing your support and understanding to people living with HIV, you encourage people to come forward and seek treatment and help they need before it becomes AIDS. Using the proper terms is a step towards eliminating the stigma. Instead of "Are you dirty/clean?", try asking "Do you have HIV?".
Thank you AFA and AWARE once again for supporting this workshop for the community.
For more information about HIV and PrEP, please contact us at The T Project or visit AFA.
More photos from the workshop can be found here.