Fewer people were diagnosed with
HIV/Aids in Singapore from January
to October this year.
The 198 cases represent a 10 per
cent drop from the same period last year.
This continues a downward trend from the peak of 469 people who were diagnosed in 2012.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) provided the figures on Wednesday in conjunction with World Aids Day.
The fall this year “could be related
to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic since early 2020”, MOH said in its statement.
It urged individuals at risk, such as those who engage in casual or commercial sex, to go for regular tests, as early diagnosis can facilitate early treatment and care.
Of the 119 cases reported in the first six months of this year, 93 per cent were male. Nearly half of them were aged between 20 and 39 while a third were aged 40 to 59.
The main transmission mode, sexual intercourse, accounted for 94 per cent of the cases – homosexual (55 per cent), heterosexual (35 per cent) and bisexual (4 per cent).
Other modes, although very rare, include intravenous drug use and blood transfusion.
Of the newly reported cases, 57 per cent were detected during the course of medical care and typically in the late stages of HIV infection, said MOH.
About a fifth of new cases were detected through self-initiated HIV screening. As these tend to be in the earlier stages of infection, they are more likely to offer a good prognosis for the patient, said MOH. Just 15 per cent were detected through routine screening.
Dr Wong Chen Seong, deputy director of the National HIV programme at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, said the pandemic could have affected the statistics in a few ways.
Covid-19 restrictions meant that there were fewer opportunities for people to meet, and hence sexual activities and the sexual transmission of HIV were reduced, he said. People could have visited HIV testing services less, he added.
Dr Wong also attributed the decline in cases to ongoing efforts to reduce HIV transmission. These include the wide reach of highly active antiretroviral therapy for those living with HIV.
Such therapy allows them to achieve an undetectable viral load, greatly reducing the risk of transmission to their sexual partners.
The continued success of prevention messaging and campaigns and the use of other prevention strategies, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is an HIV preventive drug treatment, also played a part, he added.
MOH said regular testing and early diagnosis provide an opportunity for infected persons to protect their partners.
It added that the most effective prevention is to avoid high-risk sexual behaviour, like having multiple sexual partners or commercial sex.
It also strongly advises the use of condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
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