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.

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.

Find a doctor | Make an appointment

World AIDS Day 2019 Press Statement

World AIDS Day is a day to remember all those who have lost their lives to the illness. At the end of 2018, it is estimated that 32 million lives were lost worldwide to the disease. WHO had previously set the 90-90-90 target for countries in the world to achieve by 2020, 90% of those living with HIV will know their status, 90% of those who are positive are on ART treatment and 90% of those who are on treatment have undetectable levels of the virus. Let us take stock of what we have been able to achieve thus far.


Since then Singapore has risen to the challenge to achieve those goals.
 Singapore has done well with 2 of the goals – 89% of those who are positive are on ART treatment and 94% of those who are on treatment achieved undetectable viral loads. However, much has to be done to improve on getting those living with HIV to know their status as only about 72% are aware they are positive for HIV.
Thus we need to encourage more people who are at risk of HIV infection to get tested. At Dr Tan and Partners we have been strong advocates of screening of HIV and STIs for at risk persons and provide a non-judgmental and LGBT-friendly environment to discuss your concerns. This is to help to protect their families and their loved ones. It is not uncommon for people that I see in my practice to tell me one of the reasons why they are reluctant to get tested is because they are afraid of what will happen if their families or their loved ones find out.
The other common concern is that they will lose their jobs. Finally there are still many misconceptions about how HIV is transmitted. I have patients who are concerned that because they share food with their families they can transmit HIV to their family which is of course not true. HIV is NOT transmitted via casual contact like sharing of food and drinks or shaking hands.


Of note in Singapore as of 2018, of all those who were tested positive more LGBTs are stepping up to get voluntary testing for HIV (20%) compared to heterosexuals (9%). Also importantly, in all newly diagnosed HIV persons in Singapore both homosexuals (42%) and heterosexuals (43%) contribute equally to number of cases. What this shows is that contrary to what some believe, HIV is NOT a homosexual disease but it is a disease that affects all sexual orientation.
Finally, there is strong evidence from large studies involving thousands of sero-discordant couples (that is one partner is HIV positive and the other partner is HIV negative) who have sexual acts between 2007-2016 showed that there was not a single case of HIV transmission to the HIV negative partner if the HIV positive treated partner has undetectable levels of HIV virus. This highlights the importance of treatment of HIV, that treatment of HIV can be successful in achieving undetectable levels of virus and that transmission of HIV is effectively blocked when levels of the virus is undetectable.


We are proud that our Doctors at DTAP have been actively involved in the fight against the HIV epidemic. Our Anonymous HIV Testing site at Robertson Walk has provided a safe space for thousands of people seeking confidential HIV testing since 2005. Our Doctors were the lead and co-lead authors of the Community Workforce section in the Blueprint to end HIV transmission and AIDS in Singapore by 2030. Our Doctors were also part of the Singapore HIV PrEP Taskforce and helped write the first ever local Singapore guidelines for the clinical management of HIV PrEP.
We will continue this fight until we see a world free of stigma, free of discrimination and hopefully free of HIV.


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 and 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.

Movember (Moustache + November)

Movember (Moustache + November) is a global movement by the Movember Foundation which puts the spotlight on men’s health, especially prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
The Movember Foundation recognized that males of all ages may hide their pains and suffering and ultimately result in greater problems, including an untimely demise. Unlike females, males are unlikely to share their deeply personal pains and suffering with others, including loved ones or professionals. This is why it is important for fellow males to stand up for each other, and lift them up from the fog of suffering and silence.

Cancer and Suicide – Not a pretty picture

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer now makes up one in seven cancers in Singapore males and is the third most common cancer now. In the five years from 2011 to 2015, almost 20% of those diagnosed with prostate cancer died. What is worse is that prostate cancer in the early stages has no symptoms at all. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the more likely the treatment will be successful for patients and help them remain in remission.

Testicular Cancer

While testicular cancer only accounts for 1 to 2% of all cancers in males, it is the most common cancer in young males between ages 20 to 40 – at the prime of their lives. Like prostate cancer, the earlier testicular cancer is diagnosed, the more likely that a cure is achievable.
See:  How to Perform Testicular Self-Exam

Suicide Prevention

More than 70% of all suicides in Singapore for 2018 were males. This is not unique to Singapore. In Australia, males accounted for 75% of suicides. The number of male suicides in Singapore is twice that of women and the majority were aged 65 years old and above.
It is generally believed that many factors contributed to these statistics. Societal pressures for males to “Man Up” means that males may feel isolated and have nowhere to turn to for help.
In addition, many males may feel that if they seek the help they will lose status or identity and they fear that they may lose independence, competence, control, and autonomy, all of which are perceived norms expected of males.

Mental Health

Finally, a previous study by Oogachaga (a non-profit community-based organisation that works with LGBTQ individuals) in Singapore showed that 3 in 5 LGBT individuals who participated in the survey reported facing some form of discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation. This may be part of the reason why in 2015 a study in CDC found gay and bisexual youths in the U.S. are 4 times more likely to have attempted suicide than their straight peers.

What can you do?

Now, anyone, especially males, can step forward and support your buddies and families by:

  1. Growing a moustache or beard for the month of November.
  2. Pledge to walk 60 km for the month of November – for the 60 men that are lost every hour globally due to suicides.
  3. Spend time with your buddies – be it having a night out or playing a favourite sport or whatever activity you enjoy doing together.

For the whole month of November, Dr. Tan & Partners (DTAP) is proud to support the Movember 2019 initiative with a supportive and friendly environment throughout all its clinics for men of all ages to seek help for all men’s health issues.
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 and 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.