There were 313 new HIV cases in Singapore in 2018, a 14-year low, the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced this week.
What’s more, newly-diagnosed HIV infections fell 28% between 2017 and 2018.
Diagnoses of gay and bisexual males, meanwhile, dropped by 38%.
According to M0H, sexual intercourse is the main mode of transmission, accounting for 95% of all new cases in 2018.
Men who have sex with men accounted for 52% of new infections.
Reducing HIV infections
Action for Aids Singapore said the news was ‘heartening’ in a Facebook post.
The charity said education on safer sex, access Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and tackling stigma and discrimination were bringing infections down.
Importantly, Conservative Singapore outlaws gay sex between men under Section 377A of the city-state’s penal code.
And experts have warned the law, and discriminatory attitudes, hamper efforts to reduce transmissions.
Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV is widespread in Singapore. What’s more, there are no legal protections to defend against discrimination based on their status.
In fact, Singapore only lifted a ban on HIV positive visitors in 2015.
AfA said more needs to be done to tackle the ‘abysmally low’ rates of voluntary testing.
It urged concerted efforts to address ‘pervasive stigma around HIV and structural barriers’.
The MoH this week also said: ‘The most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to remain faithful to one’s spouse/ partner and to avoid casual sex’.
In January this year, the Singapore government admitted a US man deported from Singapore has possession of leaked medical data and personal information of 14,200 people living with the disease.
The leaked data included names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, test results, and medical information.
The MoH also began calling affected individuals, causing panic among the community.
Rights activists said the breach affected the city’s most vulnerable communities. They also warned it could hamper efforts to tackle new infections.
About 7,600 Singaporeans are living with HIV, with 91% of people knowing their HIV status and 77% on anti-retroviral treatments.