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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 30 Nov 2008

Increase in HIV testing In Singapore



Increase In HIV Testing In Singapore - MOH Urges At-Risk Groups To Go For Voluntary Testing

In the first 10 months of 2008 (January-October), there were a total of 382 reported new HIV cases among Singapore residents. In comparison, there were 423 HIV cases notified for the whole of 2007. It can be expected that the total number of notified HIV cases in 2008 will exceed that of last year.
There has been an increase in the number of HIV tests done in Singapore in 2008, compared to 2007. The total number of HIV tests carried out for Singapore residents by local laboratories from January through September 2008 was 124,559, compared to 102,490 over the same time period in 2007. This represents a 22% increase this year.
There has also been an increase in anonymous HIV testing. The total number of anonymous HIV tests done between January through October 2008 was 6,983 compared to 6,706 tests done between January through October last year.
With effect from 1 November 2008, four additional GP clinics[1]have also begun to offer anonymous HIV testing. These four clinics have carried out a total of 175 tests in the first half of November 2008.
Although there is an increase in the number of notified HIV cases, it does not necessarily mean that there are more new infections. As people who are infected with HIV may not present with symptoms for several years, people who are newly diagnosed to have HIV may in fact have acquired their infection several years ago.
The increase in HIV testing may also have contributed to the increased numbers of Singapore residents detected to have HIV infection.
MOH is encouraged by the increased awareness and uptake of HIV testing, and would like to continue urging those at risk of HIV infection and those who engage in risky sexual behaviour to go for regular HIV testing. Regular HIV testing can help an infected person to be diagnosed at an earlier stage of infection. Early diagnosis can afford a person earlier access to care and treatment, and also allow the person to receive counselling on how to protect their partners from infection.
Breakdown of new cases of HIV infections between January - June 2008
There were 153 new HIV cases reported in the first 6 months of 2008. Information on new HIV cases is regularly updated on the MOH website. Data for the first 6 months of 2008 is reproduced in Annex A.
Between July and October 2008, another229 new HIV cases were reported. The additional new cases are currently undergoing further investigations, and more information on them will be released at a later date.
How individuals and employers can help prevent HIV
The most effective way to prevent HIV infection 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 engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as having multiple sexual partners, engaging in casual sex or sex with prostitutes, are strongly advised to use condoms to reduce their riskof HIV infection. Condoms should be used consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter. They should also go for regular HIV testing.
More than 90% of people living with HIV in Singapore are adults in the prime working ages of 21 to 59 years. MOH therefore strongly encourages employers to take a lead role in helping to create a supportive environment and promote greater understanding and acceptance of people living with HIV. MOH also urges employers to adopt a more pro-active approach in HIV prevention and education at the workplace. The Health Promotion Board offers a range of HIV prevention and education programmes specially designed for the workplace.
The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) has previously issued the "Guidelines on Managing HIV/AIDS at the Workplace". These guidelines advocate the provision of HIV education at the workplace, as well as provide guidance on the management of HIV-infected workers at the workplace.
Several companies have already actively taken up HIV/AIDS awareness programmes and established HIV/AIDS workplace policies within their company. These companies include Apex-Pal, UMW Equipment & Engineering Pte Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank and Shell Eastern Petroleum (Pte) Ltd.
It is an offence under the Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Act 2008 if a person who has reason to believe that he has, or has been exposed to a significant risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, does not take reasonable precautions to protect his sexual partner, such as by using condoms, even if he is ignorant of his HIV positive status. Alternatively, he can go for a HIV test to confirm that he is HIV-negative. Otherwise, he must inform his partner of the risk of contracting HIV from him, leaving the partner to voluntarily accept the risk, if he or she so wishes.
More information about HIV and AIDS can be found on the Health Promotion Board website at For more information about the workplace HIV/AIDS education programmes, please contactMs Lira Nadia Abdul Razak at 6435-3177,
30 NOV 2008
[1]Dr Jay Medical Centre, Dr Soh Family Clinic, M Lam Clinic and Robertson Medical Practice

Source: Press Release 28 Nov 2008


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