DTAP Clinic Receives Sensitivity Training for Working with LGBT+ Patients

Singapore, date – Regional GP+ group DTAP Clinic recently attended its first sensitivity training on working with LGBT+ patients. The online training workshop was conducted by Oogachaga and the T Project, attended by more than 60 doctors, nurses and support staff from Singapore and Malaysia. The responses from the workshop participants were positive and encouraging. 

The training focused on debunking common myths and assumptions as well as teaching good communication techniques for medical professionals in clinical and support scenarios when treating and consulting for LGBT+ patients. Response from the workshop participants was positive and encouraging. 

Better doctor-patient communication with the LGBT+ community

Mr. Leow Yangfa, a registered social worker and executive director of Oogachaga kicked off the training with the first session addressing various commonly held misconceptions and misheld beliefs regarding LGB individuals. He shared with DTAP Clinic’s professionals Oogachaga’s professional expertise and experience when working with Singapore’s LGBTQ+ community. The group commended DTAP Clinic as a valued and important private healthcare provider for many LGBTQ+ individuals, couples and families in the community.

“All our DTAP Clinics have always been committed to providing a safe space for everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender or orientation. Our ethos is to comfort, reassure and treat every patient with a uniformly high standard of care. We are extremely happy to have undergone this training with Oogachaga and the T Project. All of us learned a great deal and truly enjoyed the course”. 

Facts and Bad Assumptions

The second part of the training was conducted by Mr Keeshan Menon, a registered social worker with post-graduate credentials in social work and psychology, and Ms. June Chua, founder of the T Project. Their talk provided key insights into the concept of the continuum of sexuality and the pitfalls of making assumptions. The session was enlivened with positive engagement with questions from the audience and answers from panel. 

“I found this course really useful. Now I understand how certain things I may unintentionally say can be misunderstood by patients. I am more aware on how best to talk to patients and colleagues,” said Joel Wong, a staff from DTAP Clinic.

Aside from empowering all DTAP Clinic staff with the skills to put LGBT+ patients at ease, the course also helped with DTAP Clinics’ internal engagement and communication. The staff and doctors felt more confident and aware of using socially accepted terms and vocabulary when communicating with each other with regards to patient care, avoiding pitfalls when communicating with colleagues, especially with DTAP’s stand on equal opportunity employment. 

About DTAP clinic

Established in 2005, DTAP (Dr. Tan & Partners) clinics, a pioneer of GP plus, or “General Practice with Special Interest” model in Singapore, provides holistic and comprehensive medical care for everyone. We provide basic GP services with a key focus in HIV & STD testing and management, Men’s Health (Andrology), Women’s Health and Chronic Disease Management services. Our clinics are located in Singapore & Malaysia.

 

Pride Month

When COVID-19 started hitting China back in Jan 2020 and in subsequent weeks, Wuhan one of the hardest-hit city in China began a lockdown that lasted for 2 months or so, few in the rest of the world stopped to think that in the following months to come, various countries would be implementing some version of the lockdown seen in Wuhan. 

As more and more countries started to close their borders and implement movement restrictions and social distancing measures in order to control the spread of the pandemic, people around the world started to realise how much as humans we value the physical interaction we have with each other. From shaking hands of friends and co-workers to holding hands of our loved ones or visiting our elderly parents and grandparents to meeting friends for a meal, we suddenly found ourselves living in an artificial bubble where all such interactions we took for granted have all but vanished in a span of days or weeks.

Singapore is no exception. Towards the end of March 2020, the government announced that Singapore would be placed in Circuit breaker mode which initially was supposed to last for a month but has since been extended to 1st Jun 2020. In a matter of days, all forms of social interaction outside an individual’s household would come to an abrupt halt. As the circuit breaker progress through time, reports from media started highlighting vulnerable groups in society which were originally marginalized under normal circumstances and made even more vulnerable with the circuit breaker rules.

Plight of groups of the homeless, jobless, foreign workers and the elderly were talked about much in the media. This pandemic has brought to surface the many groups of vulnerable populations in any society and has raised the indignation of many. As Pride month approaches, perhaps let us think about another group of vulnerable populations in the world – the LGBT+ community. The LGBT+ community around the world still faces various forms of discrimination – legal, religious, societal and in some cases their own family.

Just as many of the heterosexual couples who under the current circumstances who are unable to meet physically with each other, the LGBT+ couples are also faced with the same scenario. While one may argue that couples both heterosexuals and LGBT+ can use technology such as Zoom/ Facebook messenger to “see” each other, it is a poor substitute for being able to hold the hands of your loved ones while walking down a street or hug each other for encouragement. How many times when we feel low have we wished for friends or family or loved ones to just hold our hands or to brush that one teardrop off our face. How many times during our moments of joy have we felt to hug our friends or family or loved ones to share in that moment of joy. The LGBT+ community is no different from any other human. They too long for those moments.

Similarly, like many heterosexual individuals who are searching for love and hope to share their lives with their loved ones, the LGBT+ community is of no exception. As humans, we hope that in our short time on this Earth, we can share our joys and tears with our loved ones. To be able to wake up in the morning and see the face of our loved ones sleeping soundly and safely, to prepare meals for our loved ones. Even with the most mundane activity like grocery shopping as long as we have our loved ones beside us, we would feel the bliss of the moment. This again is no different for the LGBT+ community.

When the time comes for heterosexual couples that they are ready to move on to the next stage of the relationship, they would propose and register to become lawfully wedded couple. Similarly, for the LGBT+ community when they found the one whom they want to share the rest of their lives together, they too hope to be able to register to become a lawfully wedded couple. It is not just a symbolic gesture but also has legal implications. For example, when medical decisions have to made because for whatever reason the other partner is unable to do so, because LGBT+ couples are not legally recognized as next of kin, many times they are not allowed to make decisions on behalf of their partner and the true wishes of the other partner is not being respected. It is a heart-wrenching experience faced by all involved.

For many of the LGBT+ community, they often are faced with the prospect of “coming out” to their family or friends. The numerous nights they toss and turn in bed trying to decide whether to “come out” to their family or friends. The umpteen times when they think they have decided to “come out” but yet at the last moment could not bring themselves to do so and then subsequently beating themselves over it later. This flip-flopping is not because they are ashamed of their gender identity but rather the fear of hurting their family or losing friendships. Let all of us as friends and family and as society in general remove that fear. No one (heterosexual or otherwise) should feel fearful when they need to tell their family or friends of some news of their lives. As family or friends, we are their safe harbour.

Some may think the fear is irrational as some family or friends may think they have not said or done anything that warrants that fear. However sometimes in our daily snippets of conversation, we have evidence and subtly expressed our discrimination or disapproval of the LGBT+ community. For example, some of us may have said in the moment of anger or jest the word fag just as we would say the F- word, it may not necessarily suggest that we are discriminating against the gay community but to the LGBT+ community is another stab in their heart.

In a YouTube video featuring a gay couple who have found love with each other but found themselves unable to be legally married because while one of the partners lives in a country that just passed a law to allow for LGBT+ marriage, it comes with a restriction that if one of the partners is not a citizen of that country and is not of a citizen of a country that legalized LGBT+ marriage then they still another not allowed to be married. One of the partners in the video asked poignantly, “All we want is to get married, is it that difficult?”

With talks of how this pandemic is going to change society even when the pandemic is over, I hope that part of that change will be a greater acceptance by society of the LGBT+ community where the LGBT+ community is finally able to be allowed to love without discrimination and be accepted as being part of society. The right to love and be loved should be unconditional.

Happy Pride Month
Dr. Julian Ng

Dr Julian Ng has 10 years of medical practice experience. He currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the DTAP Group of clinics in Singapore & Malaysia. He is also a member of the Singapore Men’s Health Society. His special interests are in the field Andrology, especially sexual health. He is currently practising at Dr Tan and Partners (DTAP) clinic at Novena Medical Centre.

Can I get an STD from a hand job?

This is a very common question that I get from patients who come to see me. Some are worried about contracting STDs when giving or receiving hand jobs or masturbation from another person. Generally speaking, there is very little risk of contracting STDs from a hand job.

Even though it is low risk, it is still not zero risk. Let me share with you some points about hand jobs and STDs.


You getting the hand job VS when you’re giving the hand job

Generally hand jobs have very low risk of transmission of STDs. However, if you give the hand job, you are at lower risk of getting an STD as compared to when receiving one. Why is that? STDs tend to affect genitals more than our hands. So if you are at the receiving end, it is your genitals that are at risk. If you are giving the hand job, it is less likely for you to get STDs unless you touch your own genitals after giving the hand job.


Type of STDs that might be transmitted through a hand job

Not all STDs are transmissible via handjobs. It is usually the ones that are passed on through skin to skin contact that are transmissible.

These include: 

  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type 1 and 2. This usually causes painful sores or vesicles around the lips or genital areas. There is no cure for the virus but you can take antiviral medication when the symptoms appear to reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): This virus usually causes genital warts. Warts are flesh coloured growths on the skin. There is also no treatment to treat the virus but there are different types of treatment available to remove the warts when they appear.
  • Molluscum Contagiosum: This is causes by a virus that lives on the skin. It can also be spread via skin to skin contact. It appears as small firm bumps on the skin which are generally harmless and painless. They usually go away on its own or you can get it removed by a doctor through freezing or laser removal.

How can you prevent it? What is considered “safe sex”?

As how we advise for all STDs, abstinence is best. 

Avoid multiple partners. Keeping to one partner minimizes the risk of STDs.

Avoid high risk exposure from sex workers or those who work in massage parlours. These workers have high exposure to several people a day so you will be at higher risk.

Condoms: Condoms may provide some protection. However do take note that areas not covered by the condom is still at risk of STDs.


Get tested to be sure!

If you’re ever in doubt, or unsure of your risks and or symptoms, do seek medical advice. The doctor will be able to advise if you need to get tested or get treated.


Also on Dtapclinic.com: HIV Test Singapore, STD Test Singapore, Anonymous HIV Testing

International Women’s Day 2020: “Each for Equal – An Equal World is an Enabled World”

International Women’s Day (IWD) which is on 8th March is a global celebration of women’s achievements. On IWD, we commemorate the political, social and economic accomplishments of women and continue to strive to raise awareness about issues relating to women’s empowerment. It is both a time for celebration as well as to push for progress and change. 

This year’s IWD theme is “Each for Equal. An equal world is an enabled world.” 

IWD 2020 is about building a gender equal world and pushing for gender equality across various aspects of society – in the government, workplace, boardroom, media etc, and recognising that gender equality is essential for economic success and for communities to thrive. Through our individual choices and actions, we can create change and move towards a gender equal society. 

At DTAP, we are firm advocates of women’s rights and empowerment. As an equal opportunity employer, DTAP believes in gender equality in the workplace and provides all employees, male and female alike, with equal opportunities to grow and excel. 

As a doctor working at DTAP, I am personally proud and glad to have had the privilege of working in a supportive and nurturing work environment, where female employees can excel in their careers, whilst continuing to fulfil their equally important family roles as mothers, wives and daughters. DTAP also strives to provide a safe and friendly workplace for women, where we know that our interests are protected and are able to focus on giving our utmost best in providing patient care. 

DTAP’s advocacy of women’s rights goes beyond the workplace. We have always believed in and will continue to push for equality in healthcare provision through our women’s health service. At DTAP, we support women’s right to choice through the provision of professional medical support for family planning. We also seek to enable women to take charge of their health by raising awareness and educating patients about female health issues. DTAP aims to provide a women’s health service where our female patients can feel safe, supported and empowered to take charge of their health. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, DTAP looks forward to continuing to empower women and pushing for greater awareness about women’s health issues through our women’s health service. We look forward to working together with you to forge a gender equal world.


Dr Grace Huang

MBBS (Singapore), MRCP (UK), Cert. Men’s Health, Academy for Men’s Health (Singapore)

Dr Grace has a keen interest in women’s health and has a broad range of experience from working in subspecialty departments across various tertiary hospitals, ranging from Neurology, Rheumatology, Endocrinology, Cardiology, Geriatrics Medicine to Emergency Medicine, amongst many others. She believes that communication is the key to empowering patients through facilitating a better understanding of their own health and medical issues and is always more than glad to address and allay her patients’ concerns.

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U=U: Science, not Stigma – This year’s Singapore HIV Congress 2019 theme

“U=U: Science, not Stigma” is this year’s Singapore HIV Congress 2019 theme. The congress highlighted the ever-growing body of evidence supporting HIV testing, treatment and prevention, and on the ways in which science and stigma intersect. DTAP (Dr. Tan and Partners) clinic is proud to be part of the Singapore HIV Congress 2019 and continuously provides support to help end the transmission of HIV in Singapore by 2030 though our support of the Community Blueprint.

What is the Community Blueprint? Find out more: U=U: Science, Not Stigma

Dr. Jonathan Ti is a GP at DTAP @ Robertson clinic. He has a special interest in sexual health and HIV, and is a co-author of the Community Blueprint to End HIV-transmission and AIDS in Singapore by 2030, and part of the National PrEP Taskforce.