Singapore Facing ‘Alarming’ HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Health Ministry Warns
Singapore is facing an "alarming" HIV/AIDS epidemic, the country's Ministry of Health said on Wednesday, noting that the country recorded more new AIDS cases in the first 10 months of 2004 than it did during the same period in 2003, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 11/11). Balaji Sadasivan, senior minister of state for the Ministry of Health, on Wednesday said that if efforts to fight the disease were not implemented, the number of HIV cases in the country would reach more than 15,000 by 2010, the AFP/International Herald Tribune reports (AFP/International Herald Tribune, 11/10). "When global efforts to control AIDS have failed dismally, we should not be surprised that we now face the same problem that the world has been grappling with," Sadasivan said (Li, Today Online, 11/11). He added that the "sharp rise" in new AIDS cases this year was primarily because of an increase in the number of cases reported among men who have sex with men -- 77 in the first 10 months of 2004 compared with 54 cases in 2003, according to SABC News (SABC News, 11/11). In addition, the number of cases detected among heterosexual men who have sex outside of Singapore has increased, according to the ministry. The agency is considering the use of mandatory HIV blood tests at border checks to screen people in high-risk groups, Channel News Asia reports. Sadasivan said that the fight against HIV/AIDS will be challenging. "Many will oppose public health measures like contact tracing and compulsory testing, arguing that the right of the individual overrides the safety of society," he said, adding, "In the end, we must convince these people that public health measures protect everyone, and it is better to have living people complaining about their rights than dead people buried with their last rights" (Channel News Asia, 11/10). As of the end of September, Singapore had recorded 972 HIV cases and 1,334 AIDS cases, according to a health ministry spokesperson (Reuters, 11/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.