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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 17 August 2006

More than 40 Singaporeans aged 19 and below HIV-positive


Speech by Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State at Standard Chartered Bank's Living with HIV - Be Aware, Be Safe Presentation 16 Aug 2006

An Excerpt

The first case of HIV in Singapore was diagnosed in 1985, more than 20 years ago.
Since then, the figures have continued to climb and as at end-December 2005, the cumulative number of people reported with HIV in Singapore had reached 2,641...
AIDS and HIV infection continue to be a serious issue locally, regionally and internationally. UNAIDS estimates that about 40 million people around the world are infected with HIV. In the African continent alone, there are 25 million people who are HIV-positive while in Asia, the number is more than 8 million.
Young people globally and in Singapore continue to be vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
By the end of last year, more than 40 young Singaporeans aged 19 and below have been reported as HIV-positive.
Between 1985 and 2005, more than 470 persons were in the 20 - 29 age group when they were diagnosed with HIV. It is very likely that some of these 20 - 29 year-olds were infected in their teenage years as persons may not know that they have HIV infection for many years as there are no symptoms initially.
What is even more alarming is the number of sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, genital herpes and warts being seen in our young. The number has increased almost 3-fold from over 250 cases in 2002 to more than 650 cases in 2004, in young people aged 10 to 19 (figures from DSC Clinic).
This increase is worrying because those affected are young Singaporeans, many of whom are still in school.
It is a tragedy when a young person, full of life and potential, becomes limited by a positive diagnosis of HIV.
The situation worsens if the infected person unknowingly spreads HIV to other young people by engaging in casual sex or sex with multiple partners.
While it is natural for young people to be curious about sex, they also need to be aware of the consequences of engaging in pre-marital sex, namely unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, or even worse, HIV which eventually leads to death.
HIV/AIDS is not a problem that will go away by itself and we cannot choose to bury our heads and pretend that the problem does not exist or will not affect us.
The spread of HIV/AIDS is not a battle which the Ministry of Health can fight alone. It needs the support and cooperation of the community - parents, schools, religious leaders, NGOs, workplaces and the media...

Full Text of Speech

Source: News 16 Aug 2006

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