Singapore Sees More HIV Infections in 2007

By Mike Grippi

Originally published on Advocate.com April 30 2008 11:00 PM ET

Singapore
recorded 422 new HIV infections last year, the highest
number in a single year since records started in 1985,
officials for the city-state of 4.5 million people
said Tuesday.

More than half of
the new cases already had late-stage HIV infections
when they were diagnosed, as happened in previous years, the
Health Ministry said. It urged people who are at high
risk of contracting the virus to go for tests.

''There is thus
an urgent need for persons who engage in high-risk
behavior such as unprotected casual sex, sex with
prostitutes, and intravenous drug abuse to go for
regular HIV testing,'' the ministry's website said in
an update of the HIV/AIDS situation in the prosperous
Southeast Asian country.

Ninety-three
percent of the new infections were among men, and 95% were
transmitted through sex, it said.

Nearly two thirds
of the sexual transmissions occurred during
heterosexual sex, the update said.

It said the
number of intravenous transmissions fell last year to seven,
half of the number recorded in 2006.

The new cases
bring the total number of known HIV-infected Singaporeans
to 3,482 as of the end of last year, the ministry said. More
than 1,100 of them have died.

The ministry also
noted that parliament last week passed an amendment to
the law to tighten regulations regarding HIV transmissions.

The existing law
penalized anyone who knows he or she is infected with
HIV but is found to have failed to tell a partner about it
before sex. The amendment includes individuals ''who
have reason to believe'' that they have been exposed
to a significant risk of contracting HIV or AIDS.

The amendment
says those individuals must take ''reasonable precautions''
-- such as using condoms or being tested -- to protect their
sexual partners. Otherwise, they must inform their
partner of the risk of contracting HIV from them and
leave it to them to accept the risk if they wish. If
the partner accepts, no legal offense is committed.

A person found
guilty of not informing a partner or of failing to take
such precautions faces a maximum penalty of a 50,000
Singapore dollar ($36,735) fine and 10 years'
imprisonment. (AP)