Singapore Health Minister Supports HIV Testing for Pregnant Women, Considers Mandatory Pre-Marital HIV Testing
Singapore Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said he supports compulsory HIV testing for pregnant women and is considering requiring couples to get tested for the virus before being married, Channel NewsAsia reports (Channel NewsAsia, 12/4). Last week, Dr. Balaji Sadasivan, senior minister of state for the Ministry of Health, announced a plan to test all pregnant women for HIV -- unless they opt out of it -- in hopes of "stemming the spread" of HIV, Singapore's Straits Times reports (Quek, Straits Times, 12/5). Khaw said he would seek public feedback on the issue, which also is an attempt to combat the "record high" number of new HIV cases in the city-state in 2004, Reuters/Yahoo! News Singapore reports (Reuters/Yahoo! News Singapore, 12/5). "Should we do it? I don't know," Khaw said to reporters over the weekend, adding, "But if you ask me as a parent, I think there is no harm. I have three girls and you do not know what their boyfriends will be like," the UPI/Washington Times reports (UPI/Washington Times, 12/5). Khaw said he would do what is "practical" and "reasonable" to fight HIV/AIDS. He also said, "I think we are more likely to succeed if we treat this as just a public health problem, so let's take away the morality, ... the religious and so on, and let's focus on it as a public health problem" (Channel NewsAsia, 12/4). The latest government data show that the number of new HIV cases hit a "record high" of 257 in the first 10 months of 2004, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 12/4). Sadasivan in November announced that Singapore is facing an alarming AIDS epidemic and that if efforts to fight the disease are not implemented, the number of HIV cases in the country would reach more than 15,000 by 2010 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.