AP: Singapore forms HIV policy panel

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Singapore forms HIV policy panel

published Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Singapore has formed a national policy committee to combat a rise in the number of HIV cases, local media reported Monday.

The announcement came with the news that 137 HIV cases had been reported from July through October, bringing the total of new cases this year to 286, Channel NewsAsia quoted the Health Ministry as saying.

The small island nation has a population of 4.4 million.

"I think the biggest issue and the most important thing is testing and I think we'll be talking more about that over the next few months," said senior state minister Balaji Sadasivan, who will chair the committee. "The fight against AIDS will be a long-drawn fight."

The television station said the new committee would start work Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.

The Health Ministry said that of the 149 cases in the first six months of 2006, 94 percent were males. Most contracted the disease through sexual transmission from casual sex and sex with prostitutes in Singapore and overseas, the report said.

Fifty-nine percent of those infected were heterosexuals and 26 percent were gay, the rest being bisexuals and intravenous drug users, the ministry said.

The Health Ministry said the 137 new infections between June and October are still undergoing investigation.

As of the end of June, a total of 2,852 Singaporeans have been infected with HIV since 1985. More than 1,000 people have died.(AP)

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.