Singapore informs spouses of HIV-positive partners

BY admin

December 09 2005 12:00 AM ET

Singapore's
health ministry has started informing spouses of
HIV-positive patients directly about their partners'
disease in order to curb the spread of HIV, the
ministry said. Letters had been hand-delivered to 41
women since July informing them that their husbands were
HIV-positive, the ministry quoted senior minister of
state for health Balaji Sadasivan as saying in a
speech made on Monday.

A ministry
official declined to elaborate on Tuesday, referring
questioners to the ministry's Web site for more details.

"Previously, some
wives were not aware of their spouse's HIV status and
so they were at risk of the HIV infection. Since July this
year, we have informed the wife when the infected
husband had not informed her of his positive HIV
status," Sadasivan said, according to a text of his
speech posted on the Web site. "Marriage and the women's own
fidelity are not enough to protect them against HIV
infection. Most have been infected despite staying
faithful to their partners.”

The letters
advise spouses to get screened for HIV antibodies and give
them information about counseling services available at the
Communicable Disease Center. The ministry said two of
the women who received the notifications had since
tested positive for the virus.

In July the
Singapore government scrapped a law that required the
patient's consent to inform their spouse. The move to
sanction breaching patient confidentiality was part of
a raft of measures introduced to fight the spread of
HIV.

Although the
wealthy Southeast Asian city-state has one of Asia's lowest
levels of HIV infection, officials there have said they
is tightening defenses due to an increase in cases,
notably among gays and among heterosexual men who have
casual sex. Singapore has recorded a total of 2,584
HIV infections to date, of whom 954 have died, 631 have
progressed to an AIDS diagnosis, and 999 show no symptoms.
(Reuters)

Tags: Health

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