At-risk groups urged to go for regular HIV testing
A total of 198 newly diagnosed cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections were reported among Singapore residents1 in the first 10 months (January to October) of 2021. The number of cases reported is 10% lower than the same period (January to October) in 2020 and could be related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020.
2. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has analysed 119 cases that were reported in the first 6 months (January – June) of 2021. Of these cases:
i. 93% were male;
ii. 48% were 20-39 years and 33% were 40-59 years; and
iii. 60% had late-stage HIV infection2 at diagnosis. This is 6% higher compared to the same period last year.
3. Sexual intercourse remains the main mode of HIV transmission, accounting for 94% of the 119 cases. Homosexual transmission was the mode of transmission for 55% of all cases, while 35% were from heterosexual transmission and 4% from bisexual transmission.
4. The majority of newly reported cases (57%) were detected by HIV tests performed in the course of medical care3, typically at a late stage of HIV infection. Another 15% were detected during routine programmatic HIV screening4 while 21% were detected through self-initiated HIV screening. The rest were detected through other forms of screening. A higher proportion of homosexuals/bisexuals (30%) had their HIV infection detected via self-initiated HIV screening compared to heterosexuals (10%).
5. Annex A provides detailed data for cases reported from 1985 to June 2021. Information on newly reported HIV cases is regularly updated on the MOH website.
6. The most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to avoid casual sex. Persons engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as having multiple sexual partners or engaging in casual or commercial sex, are strongly advised to use condoms to reduce their risk of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections. Condoms should be used consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter.
7. MOH and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) urge individuals at risk of HIV infection to go for regular HIV testing5. Regular HIV testing and early diagnosis can facilitate early treatment and care. This would also provide an opportunity for infected persons to protect their partners from infection, as HIV-positive individuals who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load have practically no risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners. With early and effective treatment, persons living with HIV can continue to lead active and productive lives.
8. HPB has been working with partner organisations to conduct programmes and campaigns to encourage high-risk individuals to take proactive measures, such as going for early and regular HIV testing. Adopting a lifestyle-based approach, these programmes engage high-risk individuals via social settings to increase the targeted reach. For more information on HIV prevention, please refer to www.healthhub.sg.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
HEALTH PROMOTION BOARD
1 DECEMBER 2021
 Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents.
 CD4+ cell count of less than 200 per mm3 or AIDS-defining opportunistic infections or both.
 Includes cases who presented with HIV-specific symptoms and cases with non-HIV related medical conditions.
 Includes screening programmes for individuals with sexually transmitted infections, hospital inpatients and those identified through contact tracing.
 HIV testing is available at polyclinics, private clinics and hospitals. In addition, HIV testing can be done at ten anonymous HIV test sites located across Singapore, where personal details are not required when signing up for a HIV test.