DPA: Record numbers undergoing testing for HIV in Singapore (Dec 1)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Record numbers undergoing testing for HIV in Singapore

Singapore - Nearly 6,000 people were tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, during the first nine months of 2007 in Singapore, a record number for the city-state, news reports said Saturday. The figure reflects the increasing options people have to be tested anonymously and quickly, health officials said.

By the end of October, there were 356 people who tested positive, one person less than the total for all of 2006, according to findings reported in The Straits Times.

More than half of those with HIV were in the late stages of infection, the Health Ministry said.

More than two-thirds of those testing positive in the first half of the year got the virus through heterosexual sex, while less than a quarter were exposed through gay sex, the report said.

Nine in 10 of the HIV cases were people aged 20 to 59.

Early testing enables HIV patients to start on medication that can help them live relatively normal lives much longer.

"Diagnosing for HIV is not difficult," Dr Roy Chan, president of Action for Aids, was quoted as saying. "The more avenues we have, the better."

He attributed delays in getting tested to the stigma still associated with the disease.

Speedy tests have become available at 100 clinics since August. More testing sites are planned.