Sunday, July 31, 2016
Singapore - HIV diagnosis rates rise in Singapore
Singapore has reported a rise in new HIV diagnosis among gay men.
In 2015 232 gay men were diagnosed with HIV, an increase of 27% on the previous year’s figures according to the New Straits Times. A total of 455 people discovered they had contracted the virus in 2015.
7,140 residents of the Island nation have been diagnosed as HIV positive since the begging of the pandemic and 1,816 have died.
Of the new cases reported in 2015, 93 per cent of patients were male, with 74 per cent of them aged between 20 and 49 years old.
One of the big areas of concern in tackling the virus in Singapore is that people are not getting tested early or regularly. As a result when the virus is detected people have a high level of the virus in their system.
Only 18% of diagnosis came from volunteer testing, over 40% of the new cases were realised through blood tests conducted while patients were being treated for other conditions.
Sumita Banerjee, General Manager of Action for AIDS (AFA) recently told Channel News Asia that they low level of voluntary testing was an area of concern.
“Eighteen per cent is very low and it is very important to go for testing (and) get diagnosed early. When a person is diagnosed early, and has gone on treatment early, it will improve the treatment results,” Banerjee said.
It has been reported that 97 of the new cases were via sexual intercourse. Unlike Australia which encourages safe sex practices, and medical interventions like PrEP, Singapore’s approach takes a more moralistic tone.
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Environment and Water Resources, said in a Facebook post when the annual figures were released that the most effective way to prevent HIV infection “is to remain faithful to one’s spouse or partner and to avoid casual sex, or sex with sex workers”.
Considerable stigma still exists in relation to the infection in Singapore. A recent news report highlighted a personal story of a young man worried to tell his friends and family about his diagnosis.