Challenge to detect HIV infections early remains key: Amy Khor

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, on Jan 21, 2013. Even as Singapore's human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection numbers remain low, the challenge to detect and treat infections early remains key, wrote Dr Khor in a bl
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, on Jan 21, 2013. Even as Singapore's human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection numbers remain low, the challenge to detect and treat infections early remains key, wrote Dr Khor in a blog post on Sunday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

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 in a blog post on Sunday, which is 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 per cent of those newly diagnosed with HIV this year already had late-stage infection. While lower than the 50 per cent 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.

As of October this year, 378 people had been diagnosed with HIV which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids), leading the Ministry of Health to anticipate that the total for 2013 would be similar to the 469 of last year.

The bulk of patents diagnosed with the disease here were infected with the virus through sexual intercourse. Others caught the disease through blood transfusion, kidney transplants overseas, sharing of needles during drug abuse, or infection at birth through their mothers.