MOH: Update on the HIV/AIDS Situation in Singapore (Dec 99)

Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Update On The HIV/AIDS Situation In Singapore

01 Dec 1999

For the first nine months of this year, another 150 Singaporeans were found to be HIV infected. This brings the total number of HIV infected Singaporeans to 1,080 as at 30 September 1999. Among them, there were 468 asymptomatic carriers, 251 with full-blown AIDS and 361 have died.

Mode Of Transmission Of HIV Infection Among Singaporeans

Sexual transmission remained the main mode of transmission among Singaporeans accounting for 96% of all reported cases (1,040 out of 1,080 cases). The remaining HIV infected Singaporeans contracted the infection through intravenous drug use (21), the perinatal route (11), renal transplant overseas (5), and blood transfusion (3).

Heterosexual transmission was the most common mode of HIV transmission among Singaporeans since 1991, accounting for 72% of all reported HIV infected Singaporeans. Most of these cases contracted the infection through unprotected casual sex and sex with prostitutes in Singapore and overseas.

Profile of HIV infected Singaporeans

The majority (954 cases) of the HIV infected Singaporeans were males and 126 were females giving a male to female ratio of about 8 : 1. Two-thirds (65%) of the cases were between the ages of 20 - 39 years at the time of diagnosis. About 83% were Chinese, 7% were Malays, 6% were Indians and 4% Others.

60% of the reported cases were single. Among the males, 65% were single while among the females majority (70%) were married (Table 5). Since 1991, there has been an increase in the number of married persons among HIV infected Singaporeans from 14% in 1991 to 38% in 1998. For the first nine months of this year, 39% of the reported cases were married.

Ministry's Advice

The Ministry would like to emphasise that the only way to avoid AIDS is to remain faithful to one's spouse 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 by looking at his/her appearance.

The Ministry would also like to remind those who are at risk of being infected with the HIV virus not to donate blood. They should see their doctors for HIV screening. All women who are pregnant are encouraged to be screened for HIV infection so that measures to prevent transmission from mother to infant could be taken early. The Ministry would like to assure that the identities of persons who come forward for testing and those who are found to be HIV positive will be kept strictly confidential.

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