This World AIDS Day, take steps to prevent HIV infection

Sexual contact is the main mode of HIV transmission. Photo: Pixabay

With recent statistics from the Ministry of Health (MOH) suggesting a fall in the number of cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection compared to years past, Singapore could have something to cheer about this World AIDS Day (1 December).

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the end stage of HIV infection, a viral infection that spreads through body fluids (e.g. blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk) and attacks the immune system. Treatment can help to control the advancement of HIV infection, not cure it.

According to MOH, 361 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in Singapore in the first 10 months of 2017. Of the cases analysed between January and June 2017, 96 per cent were males, and 46 per cent were aged between 20 and 39 years old. In 2016, the figure for the whole year was 408, down from 455 in 2015.

Photo: Pixabay

Worldwide too, new HIV infections have registered a decline, falling by about 11 per cent among adults from 1.9 million in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2016, reports UNAIDS.

MOH said that sexual intercourse remains the main mode of HIV transmission in Singapore, with 97 per cent of the HIV infections from January to June having been acquired through sex.

Photo: Pixabay

How to prevent HIV infection

  • Avoid casual and high-risk sex: “The most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to remain faithful to one’s spouse/ partner and to avoid casual sex, or sex with sex workers,” stresses MOH.
  • Use condoms: Ensure you use a condom correctly every time you have sex.
  • Have regular HIV testing: If you are at high risk of developing HIV, go for regular HIV testing.
  • Accept only clean, sterile needles and choose a reliable source for piercings, tattoos or injections.
  • Accept only HIV-screened blood for transfusions.

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