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Saturday, October 8, 2011

HIV-positive donor gave blood for 20 years

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:40 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The picture that is arising of the 57-year-old man who donated HIV-contaminated blood is one of a devout Buddhist who donated blood for more than 20 years to save lives, and urged others to do the same.

Therefore when The Straits Times visited his family yesterday, it came as a huge shock that he had lied to the authorities about visiting prostitutes and had consequently donated HIV-contaminated blood.
Two of his four children only found out their father is HIV-positive when the man was hauled to court and sentenced to eight months in prison on Wednesday.
His wife knew since January last year, when he was arrested for falsely declaring that he had not visited prostitutes or had more than one sex partner in the past 12 months.
The man was caught after investigations were launched upon the discovery that the blood he donated on Nov 21, 2009, was HIV-positive. It was found he also donated blood between July 20, 2008 and Aug 21, 2009. However, these donations tested negative for HIV.
His son believes that his father was too ashamed to tell his family, but he would never have donated blood if he knew that he was sick.
He described the man, who cannot be named because of a gag order, as a doting father and grandfather, who worked odd jobs as a forklift driver to support his family.
Although the man's marriage had fallen apart more than 10 years ago, he continued to live with his wife of 30 years.
The marriage was fraught with conflict, with his parents barely communicating and the man often sleeping on the couch, but the couple chose not to divorce due to traditional values, his son said.
The wife said she knew of his numerous female companions and outside trysts, but did not bother about it.
The family told Sraits Times that they will not abandon him and will continue to emotionally and financially support the man once he is released from jail.
Neighbours describe the simple man who did not undergo any formal education as amiable and the family friendly.
Donovan Lo, executive director for Action for AIDS Singapore, said some donors may not take answering the health assessment form seriously as they may not be educated in the modes of HIV transmission - which includes blood, semen and vaginal secretions.
Hence they may not think their activities place them in the high-risk lifestyle category, and continue donating blood.
According to Lo, late diagnoses among men over 50 years of age are getting more common, indicating a need to educate them on the dangers of AIDS.

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