The (Singapore) Sunday Times reported that for the first time since 1990, the number of homosexual and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV has overtaken that of heterosexual men.
Quoting statistics provided by the Ministry of Health in an update published last November, it noted that in the first half of 2011, homosexuals and bisexuals comprised 54 per cent of the 195 people found to have the human immunodeficiency virus which causes AIDS. All were infected through sex. Heterosexuals made up the rest.
The report quoted AIDS activists as saying that the surge is significant as men who had sex with women were the majority of those diagnosed with HIV for most of the past two decades.
In 2000, gays and bisexuals accounted for 13 per cent of infection rates, 35 per cent in 2005, and 47 per cent in 2010 before hitting an all time high in the first half of 2011.
Infographic from The Straits Times
While the ministry's update noted that a higher proportion of gay men had their HIV infection detected via voluntary screening compared to heterosexuals (27% vs. 2%), the Times report quoted Action for Aids executive director Donovan Lo as saying that many gay men have become complacent about HIV and AIDS.
"They can't relate to the seriousness of this silent epidemic," he said. "They don't know or see anyone with HIV. So they think their chances of getting it are very low, especially if they have tested negative before."
When asked for his comments Brenton Wong, former vice-president of Aids advocacy group Action for AIDS, told Fridae he believes the increased infection rates could be due to an increase in unsafe behaviour. "Also no one is talking about recreational drug use as a driver for new infections," he said.
According to Fridae's international MSM Sex Survey in 2009 and 2010, 13% of 7993 respondents in 2009 reported consuming recreational drugs (e.g. Viagra, ecstasy, poppers, methamphetamines) before or during sex compared to 15% of 13,882 respondents in 2010.
From January to June last year, 38 of the 195 people diagnosed and who were infected through sex were men aged 20-29 and 2 were aged 15-19. In 2010, 66 of 432 people infected through sex were men aged 20-29, and 5 were aged 15-19.
Anonymous HIV Testing & Counselling
Action for AIDS operates an Anonymous HIV Testing & Counselling Clinic at the DSC Clinic at 31 Kelantan Lane #1-16 S200031 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Test results are available within 20 min of doing the test. The The clinic provides HIV and syphilis testing at $30 each.
Tuesdays & Wednesdays
6.30pm to 8.30pm (Last walk-in will be at 8.15pm)
1.30pm to 3.30pm (Last walk-in at 3.15pm)
Every last Tuesday of the month.
AIDS Information & Counselling Hotline Number: 6254 0212
Monday to Friday, 10:00am to 5:30pm
The Hotline provides information and counseling services on all aspects of AIDS.
Important Note on Window Period before coming down for a test:
The time period between when a person is actually infected with HIV and when antibodies to HIV can be detected in the test is called the window period.
Nearly everyone who is infected with HIV (99%) will have antibodies detected by 3 months after infection.
However, currently used antibody tests are more sensitive than those used in the past.
Most people will develop detectable antibodies by 30 days after infection with HIV.
You are therefore able to do your HIV test at our clinic from the first month of exposure, then confirm your status once more in the third month.
For more info, click here.