265 new cases of HIV infections reported from Jan to Oct, down from same period in 2017: MOH

Of the new cases in 2018, the Ministry of Health analysed 156 which were reported in the first half of the year, all of which were exposed through sexual intercourse.
Of the new cases in 2018, the Ministry of Health analysed 156 which were reported in the first half of the year, all of which were exposed through sexual intercourse.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There were 265 newly diagnosed cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections reported among Singapore residents from January to October this year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Saturday (Dec 1).

This is down from the 361 cases that were reported in the same period last year.

Of the new cases this year, MOH analysed 156 which were reported in the first half of 2018, all of which were exposed through sexual intercourse.

Heterosexual transmission was the mode of transmission for 45 per cent of these cases, while 43 per cent of cases were from homosexual transmission.

The remaining 12 per cent of cases were from bisexual transmission, the ministry said.

Around 90 per cent of cases were male, with about 40 per cent aged between 20 and 39 and 46 per cent aged between 40 and 59.

About 53 per cent of the cases had late-stage HIV infection when they were diagnosed, higher than the proportion of 42 per cent for the same period in 2017.

 

About 57 per cent of the cases reported this year were detected by HIV tests done in the course of medical care, the ministry said.

Another 22 per cent were detected during routine programmatic HIV screening such as screening programmes for individuals with sexually transmitted infections and hospital inpatients.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent of cases were picked up through voluntary HIV screening.

The remaining cases were detected through other types of screening such as general health screenings and medical checks for employment.

A higher proportion of homosexuals and bisexuals (25 per cent) had their HIV infection detected via voluntary screening compared to heterosexuals (9 per cent), the ministry added.

MOH and the Health Promotion Board have urged individuals at risk of HIV infection to go for regular HIV testing, which is available at polyclinics, private clinics and hospitals.

HIV tests can also be done at 10 anonymous HIV test sites across the island, where personal details are not required when signing up for a test.

Regular HIV testing means that diagnosis can be made at an early stage of infection, which allows for early treatment and care. Early and effective HIV treatment can help infected persons delay the onset of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) for many years, and they can continue to lead an active and productive life.

The most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to remain faithful to one's spouse or partner and to avoid casual sex, and sex with sex workers, the ministry said.

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 and other sexually transmitted infections. Condoms should be used consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter.

Members of the public can refer to www.preventhiv.sg for more information on HIV prevention, the statement said.