Originally published on Advocate.com May 22 2004 12:00 AM ET
Singapore last year recorded the highest number of new HIV infections since the disease first appeared in the country in 1985, the health ministry announced this week. A total of 242 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2003, exceeding the 2001 high of 237 new infections, according to the latest ministry statistics. Singapore has not been hit as hard by AIDS as some of its Southeast Asia neighbors thanks to its modern medical system and government-sponsored information campaigns. However, the latest statistics indicate that "prevention efforts have failed," said Brenton Wong, vice president of the Singapore-based Action for AIDS advocacy group. "We need mass public campaigns with effective messages about condom use," Wong said, adding that existing campaigns are not reaching those most at risk. Gays accounted for 16% of new HIV cases, bisexuals 6%, and intravenous drugs users 2%. Heterosexual males accounted for the majority of new HIV cases, according to the statistics.