Aids/HIV cases in Singapore on downward trend with 408 new cases last year

A nurse preparing doses of HIV-AIDS drugs for patients.
A nurse preparing doses of HIV-AIDS drugs for patients.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The number of cases of HIV/Aids in Singapore is falling.

Last year, a total of 408 people were diagnosed with Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids), down from 455 the previous year.

Even more heartening is the five-year drop in incidence per million population: from 122.8 in 2012 to 103.7 last year.

Professor Roy Chan, president of Action for AIDS (AFA) said: "This is good news. It's the result of hard work and perseverance in delivering prevention information and tools to persons who are most at risk.

"We hope this trend will continue, we cannot rest on our laurels. Prevention programmes must be adequately resourced, with a long term view. New biomedical methods of prevention should be tried out."

Dr Chia Shi Lu, head of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said: "It probably reflects a real trend as our active surveillance is quite comprehensive so we are probably picking up most of the cases and we also have opportunistic screening.

 Number of Singapore residents reported with HIV/Aids

     Year           Total      Rate (per million resident population)
2012 469 122.8
2013 454 118.1
2014 456 117.81
2015 455 116.6
2016 408 103.7

"It also reflects the global trend as better treatment results also reduce infectivity and transmission. But certainly we must not lose focus on continued education and prevention strategies."

The latest report from the Ministry of Health (MOH) said 93 per cent of patients were men. Almost two in three new patients were aged 20-49 years, and two in five had late-stage HIV infection.

It said "sexual intercourse remains the main mode of HIV transmission" accounting for 389 of the cases.

More than half were from homosexual transmissions and 36 per cent from heterosexual sex.

The virus affects a person's immune system, making them more susceptible to other infections, including tuberculosis.

There is neither cure nor vaccine for this disease which infects more than 2.5 million people worldwide each year. However, there is treatment that can slow the progression of the disease. Generally, the earlier the treatment starts, the better the outcome.

Last year, one in four cases were diagnosed as a result of voluntary screening, and these were mostly discovered in the early stages. The 40 per cent detected because they were sick were generally in the late stage of the disease.

Two cases were babies born with the disease from mothers who were infected. These occurred overseas. Mothers in Singapore  who test positive are treated to prevent the transmission of the virus to their baby.

Of the 7,548 people in Singapore who have been diagnosed with this serious disease, 1,888 have died.