Friday, Nov 29, 2013
SINGAPORE – In the first 10 months of this year, another 378 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections were reported among Singapore residents.
In a statement released today, the Ministry of Health said that by extrapolation, it can be expected that the total number of notified HIV cases in 2013 will be similar to that of the 469 cases reported in 2012.
Of the 198 Singapore residents detected with HIV infection in the first six months of 2013, 95 per cent are males. Sexual transmission remained the main mode of HIV transmission as 97 per cent of the 198 cases acquired the infection through the sexual route.
Heterosexual transmission accounted for 43 per cent of these cases while 44 per cent were from homosexual transmission. Ten per cent were from bisexual transmission.
Almost half of the new cases reported in the first half of 2013 were aged 30 to 49 years.
Two in five newly reported cases already had late-stage HIV infection when they were diagnosed. This was lower than the proportion of 50 per cent in previous years.
Slightly over 40 per cent of the newly reported cases from January to June 2013 had their HIV detected when HIV testing was performed in the course of medical care provision. Another 30 per cent were detected during routine programmatic HIV screening while 20 per cent were detected as a result of voluntary HIV screening.
The rest were detected through other types of screening.
When differentiated by sexual transmission, a higher proportion of homosexuals (33 per cent) had their HIV infection detected via voluntary screening compared to heterosexuals (8 per cent).
MOH said that the most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to remain faithful to one’s spouse/partner and to avoid casual sex, and sex with sex workers.
“Persons engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as having multiple sexual partners or engaging in casual or commercial sex, are strongly advised to use condoms to reduce their risk of HIV infection. Condoms should be used consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter,” the statement said.
MOH and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) urged individuals at risk of HIV infection to go for regular HIV testing as regular HIV testing can help an infected person to be diagnosed at an earlier stage of infection.
With early diagnosis, a HIV positive person can access care and treatment earlier, and also receive counseling on how to protect their partners from infection.
HPB said it has been working with partner organisations to conduct programmes and campaigns targeted at high-risk individuals to urge them to go for early and regular HIV testing.
HPB added that its partners conduct various educational outreach programmes on HIV prevention and management using a lifestyle approach. These programmes are designed to reach out to at-risk individuals through social settings to encourage them to take personal proactive measures and have regular HIV testing.
This is so as to allow for early detection and treatment, delay the onset of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and ensure an active and productive life, HPB said.