455 new cases of HIV reported in Singapore in 2015, most patients got virus through sex

Test tubes containing blood samples. There were 455 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections reported among Singapore citizens and permanent residents last year, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Test tubes containing blood samples. There were 455 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections reported among Singapore citizens and permanent residents last year, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There were 455 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections reported among Singapore citizens and permanent residents last year, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). In most cases, patients got the virus through sex.

This brings the total number of HIV-infected Singaporean residents to 7,140 as of end 2015, of whom 1,816 have died, the ministry added in an update on its website on Wednesday (June 1).

The rate of new HIV cases has remained relatively constant, with around 450 new cases being reported every year since 2008.

Of the new cases reported in 2015, 93 per cent of patients were male, with 74 per cent of them aged between 20 and 49 years old.

Around 40 per cent were already suffering from late-stage HIV when they were diagnosed, which is a 9-point drop from the 49 per cent recorded in 2014.

Among the 455 new cases, 440 - or 97 per cent - contracted the virus through sexual intercourse.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Environment and Water Resources, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday night that the most effective way to prevent HIV infection "is to remain faithful to one's spouse or partner and to avoid casual sex, or sex with sex workers".

"For those who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, MOH and (the Health Promotion Board's) advice is for them to go for early and regular HIV testing. With early diagnosis and treatment, the onset of AIDS can be delayed so that the patient is able to live an active and productive life," said Dr Khor.

"More importantly, early treatment also reduces HIV spread in the community."