EA engagement 2: first volunteer experience

On July 14th, I went to DSC Clinic at Jalan Basar, which is Afa’s ATS (anonymous┬átesting service) site to volunteer as a receptionist. They told me that everyone has to have two trainings at the reception, two at the blood taking procedure and three at both pre- and post- counselling. I assume that this well-established and monitored training system is one of the reasons why the organisation is perceived to be legitimate. Medical professionals or not, everyone who volunteers at Afa will be experts on the diagnosis and treatment procedure of HIV/AIDS. Even in my first training, I got to learn about the types of tests and how they differentiate. Being a receptionist, I had to ask which test they want to take and collect the money accordingly to each tests’ price. If they weren’t sure I had to explain to them the differences between the tests and let them decide. If the patient was a woman, I should ask whether or not they want a female counsellor. The things I learned on the 14th made me acknowledge how Afa puts the patient’s comfortability and security as a priority. Perhaps, this is why Afa has been able to have such a great relationship across various communities such as LGBT community and also the government.

At the reception, there were people from all sorts of background with various attitudes towards HIV/AIDS. Some were acting as if they were trying to hide the fact that they came to the clinic, perhaps due to the prevalent stigma around HIV/AIDS. In order to provide communal support, gay men under the age of 39 were introduced to a programmed called Pink Carpet, where Afa provides a platform for them to interact and talk about personal issues. Afa also holds events and hopes that gay men in Singapore do not alone or isolated. I think this reflects the work of Afa because they not only provide health service to reduce HIV/AIDS infection rate, but also advocate to eliminate stigma around it.

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