Ahad, 1 Disember 2013

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Challenge to detect HIV early remains key


EVEN as Singapore's human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection numbers remain low, the challenge to detect and treat infections early remains key, wrote Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor (pic) in a blog post on World AIDS Day.

Regular HIV testing is an important way in which to prevent late detections, she wrote, especially for those with multiple sexual partners or who take part in high-risk sexual behaviour.

By diagnosing HIV early, sufferers can seek care and treatment earlier and live out longer, healthier lives, she added.

They would also be able to take measures to protect their partners from infection.

As of June, about 40% of those newly diagnosed with HIV this year already had late-stage infection.

While lower than the 50% recorded in previous years, Dr Khor wrote that this is still "a significant proportion which we must strive to reduce".

Dr Khor emphasised the need to debunk myths and misconceptions about HIV and "reduce discrimination against (sufferers)".

These were factors that contributed to delayed testing and detection of HIV, she wrote. — The Straits Times / Asia News Net-work

Poll: Employees take four MCs a year


EMPLOYEES use up, on average, only about four days of their outpatient sick leave entitlements each year, a new survey has found.

This is less than a third of the average 14 days of medical leave which most people are given by their employers.

And when asked if they have ever called in sick when they were not actually ill, more than eight out of 10 respondents claimed they have never lied to their doctors or bosses to get a day off.

These were the findings from a poll of 1,000 employees from across different sectors conducted online by career portal STJobs over the last three weeks.

HR experts and industry watchers generally agree with the results, saying the low rate of people calling in sick with medical certificates (MC) could be due to flexible work arrangements, which are more common these days.

Civil servants, for instance, can now call in sick without an MC for two days a year. The "progressive human resource practice" was implemented in April by the Public Service Division after consultation with the various ministries.

More companies offering paternity and eldercare leave in recent years, in addition to existing maternity and extended childcare leave entitlements, for instance, have also helped keep the "MC rate" low.

There were, however, some sceptics like HR consultant Martin Gabriel of HRMatters21, who believes the national average may be higher – about six days in a year.

"But I suppose people might take fewer days of leave because they're concerned about being branded MC King or Queen, and being seen as lazy," he said.

Aside from actual health reasons, he said the number of days an employee calls in sick is highly correlated to his total leave entitlements.

"That is why I've always warned companies that if their leave allowance is too low, the number of MCs will go up," he said. "Lower leave entitlement may also see higher abuse of medical leave."

About 16% of the employees polled admitted they have called in sick this year even though they were fit to work. This was almost double the 9% who admitted doing the same in a poll of 1,000 people in October by travel website Skyscanner.

Still, experts like David Ang said the figure was lower than expected.

The associate director of HR consultancy Remuneration Data Spe­cialists said a more indicative figure would be about one in four, or 25%. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Turning to comedy to raise vigilance against crime


THE National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the police are bringing some cheer in their efforts to remind the public to stay vigilant against crime this festive season with "Criminal Watch".

A parody of council's popular Crime Watch programme – the new video shows the antics of unsuspecting victims of common crimes like online extortion and car theft.

Produced by local filmmaking group Night Owl Cinematic, the video was launched by Grassroots Advisor and MP for Pioneer Constituency, Cedric Foo at the launch of this year's Festive Season Crime Prevention Campaign on Saturday.

The video can be viewed on the police and NCPC Facebook pages, as well as at #criminalwatch on Youtube. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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