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220 new cases of HIV reported in Singapore between January and October

220 new cases of HIV reported in Singapore between January and October

A healthcare worker draws a blood sample from a man getting tested for HIV/AIDS. (Photo: AFP/ Noah SEELAM).

SINGAPORE: A total of 220 new HIV cases were reported among Singapore citizens and permanent residents in the first 10 months of this year, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Dec 1).  

Singapore reported 323 HIV cases for the whole of 2019 and 313 the year before.

The health ministry said it analysed 125 of the new cases, which were reported between January and June. 

The majority – 90 per cent – were men. Most were below 60 years old, with 42 per cent aged between 40 and 59 and 37 per cent aged between 20 and 39. 

About 54 per cent had late-stage HIV when they were diagnosed, an increase from 49 per cent for the same period last year. 

READ: Why does Singapore need an HIV registry?

READ: 'It's a death sentence': HIV myths debunked

Sexual intercourse accounted for 96 per cent of the 125 cases. About 46 per cent were from homosexual transmission, 40 per cent from heterosexual transmission and 10 per cent from bisexual transmission.

About 58 per cent of all cases were detected by HIV tests done during medical care, said MOH. Only 15 per cent of cases were discovered through self-initiated HIV screening.

"A higher proportion of homosexuals/bisexuals (21 per cent) had their HIV infection detected via self-initiated HIV screening compared to heterosexuals (8 per cent)," said the ministry.

READ: 'It's a death sentence': HIV myths debunked

The ministry urged those at risk of HIV infection to go for regular tests. 

HIV testing is available at polyclinics, private clinics and hospitals. It can also be done at 10 anonymous HIV test sites located across Singapore, where personal details are not required when signing up.

"Early diagnosis allows for early treatment and care, and provides the opportunity for those infected to learn about protecting their partners from infection," said MOH. 

“With early and effective treatment, persons living with HIV can delay the onset of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) for many years and continue to lead an active and productive life.”

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

Those who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as having multiple sexual partners or engaging in casual or commercial sex, should use condoms to reduce their risk of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, said the ministry. 

Source: CNA/ad(cy)

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