Fewer new HIV cases diagnosed here this year

There were 265 newly-diagnosed HIV cases reported among Singapore residents from January to October this year - down from 361 in the same period last year.

The Ministry of Health said yesterday that it analysed 156 cases reported in the first half of this year, all of which resulted from sexual intercourse.

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

The remaining 12 per cent 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 between 40 and 59.

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

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 programmes for individuals with sexually transmitted infections and hospital inpatients.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent of cases were picked up through voluntary screening for HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus.

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

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

The ministry and the Health Promotion Board have urged individuals at risk of HIV infection to get regular testing, which is available at polyclinics, private clinics and hospitals. Checks can also be done at 10 anonymous sites across the island, where personal details are not required when signing up for a test.

Regular testing means diagnosis can be made at an early stage of infection, allowing prompt treatment and care. This in turn can help delay the onset of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or Aids, for many years, and infected people can continue to lead an active and productive life.

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

People engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour are strongly advised to use condoms to reduce their risk of HIV infection. Members of the public can refer to www.preventhiv.sg for more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 02, 2018, with the headline 'Fewer new HIV cases diagnosed here this year'. Print Edition | Subscribe