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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 1 Dec 2005

198 Singaporeans infected with HIV in first 10 months of 2005


Update on Singaporeans infected with HIV

New cases of HIV infection reported in first 10 months of 2005
AIDS is a multi-faceted problem which requires collaborative efforts from various parties so as to prevent the progressive rise in numbers.
In the first 10 months of this year, another 198 Singaporeans were detected to be HIV infected. About 90 per cent of the new cases detected this year were males and 10 per cent were females.
Sexual transmission remains the main mode of HIV transmission among Singaporeans. Of the 198 cases reported in the first 10 months of 2005, 193 cases acquired the infection through the sexual route, with heterosexual transmission accounting for 69 per cent of infections, homosexual transmission 26 per cent and bisexual transmission 3 per cent.
Intravenous drug use (2 cases) and perinatal transmission (3 cases) accounted for the remaining 2 per cent. Among those who acquired the infection through the sexual route, 90 per cent had sexual exposure to prostitutes (locally and overseas) and/or casual partners.
Those aged between 30 to 49 years of age accounted for about 57 per cent of all new cases reported in the first 10 months of 2005.
Those aged between 50 to 59 years accounted for 17 per cent, while those aged 20 to 29 years accounted for another 14 per cent of cases. Approximately, 57 per cent were single, while 29 per cent were married, 12 per cent were divorced and 2 per cent were widowed.
Total number of HIV infected Singaporeans
This brings the total number of HIV infected Singaporeans including 25 children to 2584 as of Oct 2005 (Table 1). Of these, 999 are asymptomatic carriers, 631 have full-blown AIDS and 954 have died.
Heterosexual transmission has been the most common mode of HIV transmission among Singaporeans since 1991 (Table 2). Most of these cases contracted the infection through casual sex and sex with prostitutes in Singapore and overseas.
The majority of HIV infected Singaporeans are male with 2285 cases; 299 are female (Table 3), giving a sex ratio of eight males to one female. Among the males, 60 per cent were single at the point of diagnosis. For the females, however, the majority (61 per cent) were married.
About 84 per cent are Chinese, 8 per cent Malays, 5 per cent Indians and 3 per cent members of other ethnic groups (Table 4).
About 19 per cent of the HIV infected Singaporeans were working in the sales and service sector and another 17 per cent were production craftsman and plant/machine assemblers (Table 6). See Table 5 for HIV infected Singaporeans by age and sex.
AIDS Business Alliance formed to fight AIDS bias in the workplace
To encourage more companies to implement HIV/AIDS education and prevention programmes, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) are actively engaging the support of the business community in Singapore through the formation of an AIDS Business Alliance.
The business community together with the National Trade Unions Congress (NTUC), the Singapore National Employees Federation (SNEF) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) can play a crucial role in preventing HIV/AIDS by educating employers, employees and their families about the disease. To date, the alliance had been well received by several businesses that were willing to help promote workplace education on AIDS.
The Ministry would like to emphasise that AIDS is a problem which requires collaborative efforts from various parties. Workplace education is one effective way of spreading AIDS education and removing the stigma associated with AIDS patients in workplaces.
AIDS is not transmitted through normal day to day contacts with a HIV infected person, be it at home, in school or at the workplace. The AIDS virus has to go directly into your bloodstream before it can infect you. Thus you cannot get AIDS from coughs, sneezes, shaking hands, hugging, sharing of food and cutlery, sharing of toilets, etc.
The Ministry would like to emphasise that the only way to avoid AIDS is to remain faithful to one's spouse/partner and to avoid casual sex and sex with prostitutes. A HIV infected person looks and feels normal during the early stage of the infection. It is therefore not possible to tell if a person is infected or not by looking at his/her appearance.
Persons who engage in high-risk behaviour i.e. multiple sexual partners, casual sex or sex with prostitutes, are advised to use condoms to reduce their risk of HIV infection.
Persons who have unprotected sex while engaging in high-risk behaviour are very likely to acquire AIDS and should undergo regular HIV testing so that the disease is detected as early as possible. It is a criminal offence for persons who know that they are infected with the HIV virus not to inform their sex partners of their HIV status before sexual intercourse.
The Ministry reminds those who are at risk of being infected with the HIV virus not to donate blood. Those who are at risk of being infected are advised to see their doctors for HIV screening.
All women who are pregnant are also encouraged to go for HIV screening so that measures to prevent transmission from mother to infant could be taken early for those who are found to be HIV infected. The identities of persons who come forward for testing and those who are found to be HIV positive will be kept strictly confidential.
Ministry of Health
1 December 2005
More..... (Tables)

Source: Press Release 1 Dec 2005

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