Health Ministry: 155 new cases of HIV infections in first half of this year

People holding electric candles at the National Skin Centre Auditorium in memory of those who died from HIV and Aids during the 30th anniversary of the International Aids Candlelight Memorial, organised by Action for Aids Singapore in May 2013. -- PH
People holding electric candles at the National Skin Centre Auditorium in memory of those who died from HIV and Aids during the 30th anniversary of the International Aids Candlelight Memorial, organised by Action for Aids Singapore in May 2013. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In the first six months of 2014, 155 new cases of HIV infections were reported among Singapore residents, said the Ministry of Health on Saturday.

Of these new reported cases, 91 per cent were male, and more than half were aged between 30 and 49 years old. Nearly half already had late-stage HIV infection when they were diagnosed.

The number of new cases has been going down - there were 198 in the same six-month period last year, and 215 in 2012. In total, there were 454 new cases for the whole of last year, slightly less than the 469 in 2012.

Despite the downward trend, HIV transmission remains a concern for some risk groups, said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor at the biennial Singapore Aids Conference at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. "Singapore's HIV epidemic remains largely driven by sexual transmission. Heterosexual men engaging in casual or commercial sex, or men who have sex with men are still our two biggest risk groups," she said.

Dr Khor, who is also the chairperson of the National HIV/Aids Policy Committee, urged high-risk groups to go for early and regular HIV testing but noted that stigmatisation of those infected discourages them.

She said: "We still have some way to go to raise awareness and public acceptance of persons living with HIV. We will continue to work with stakeholders such as community organisations, companies and other agencies in the public sector on HIV-related issues."