A total of 188 newly diagnosed cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections were reported among Singapore residents in the first 10 months (January to October) of 2023. This is 10% higher than the number of cases in the same period in 2022.
2. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has analysed 104 cases that were reported from January to June 2023. Of these cases:
i. 97% were male;
ii. 27% were 30 to 39 years, 21% were 40 to 49 years and 23% were 50 to 59 years; and
iii. 48% had late-stage HIV infection2 at diagnosis. This is 11% lower compared to the same period last year.
3. Intercourse remains the main mode of HIV transmission, accounting for 96% of the 104 cases. Hetero people accounted for 28% of cases while 68% of the cases occurred in men who have intercourse with men, including men who reported intercourse with men and women (4%).
4. 58% of the newly reported cases were detected during the course of medical care3 of which a greater proportion are at a late stage of HIV infection than other modes of detection. Another 13% were detected during routine programmatic HIV screening4 while 18% were detected through self-initiated HIV screening. The rest were detected through other forms of screening. A higher proportion of men who have intercourse with men (25%) had their HIV infection detected via self-initiated HIV screening compared to hetero people (3%).
5. Annex A provides detailed data for cases reported from 1985 to June 2023. Information on newly reported HIV cases is regularly updated on the MOH website.
6. The most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to remain faithful to one’s spouse/ partner and to avoid casual intercourse, or intercourse with prostitutes. Persons engaging in high-risk intercourse behaviour, such as having multiple partners or engaging in casual or commercial intercourse, are strongly advised to use condoms consistently and correctly to reduce their risk of HIV infection and other STIs. In addition, preventive measures like HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis are highly effective when used as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy.
7. Knowing one’s HIV status enables one to receive treatment early and prevent others from getting infected. The only way to know one’s HIV status is to go for a test. MOH and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommend that every adult should get tested at least once in their lifetime regardless of risk factors. Individuals who engage in high-risk behaviours should go for regular HIV testing every three to six months.
8. With early and effective treatment, persons living with HIV can lead lives no different from others. Although there is no cure for HIV, persons living with HIV can be treated with antiretroviral therapy which is effective at controlling the infection. This also provides an opportunity to protect their partners from infection as people living with HIV who are on regular treatment and have an undetectable viral load have practically no risk of transmitting the virus to their partners. 94% of Singapore residents living with HIV undergoing treatment have achieved undetectable viral load.5
9. HPB will continue working with partner organisations on programmes and campaigns to encourage at-risk individuals to take protective measures, such as going for early and regular HIV testing.
10. More information about HIV and AIDS as well as where to undergo HIV testing or purchase HIV self-testing kits can be found on go.gov.sg/preventhiv.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
HEALTH PROMOTION BOARD
1 DECEMBER 2023