HIV & AIDS

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infections. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV infection.

HIV & AIDS in Singapore

Please refer to the link below. These figures are updated annually.


Sexual transmission remains the main mode of HIV transmission among Singaporeans.

Definition & Characteristics

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infections.

A person infected with HIV can take up to 10 years to develop Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is caused by the HIV and is the end stage of HIV infection.

The HIV infection weakens the body's immune defences by destroying CD4 (T-cell) lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that protect the body against attacks by bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens. Weakened or destroyed white blood cells cannot defend the body against infections effectively.

HIV infection also increases the severity of some common diseases and conditions, and the risk of getting some cancers. A person with AIDS if untreated usually dies between 1.5 – 3 years after developing AIDS from various infections and cancers.

Symptoms

You cannot tell if someone has HIV based on appearances alone. Persons with HIV usually have no visible signs or symptoms. However, the following symptoms may be experienced:

  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Prolonged fever
  • Night sweats
  • Skin rash
  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Lowered resistance to infections

HIV screening is the only way to know if one is infected. Most clinics offer routine HIV screening services. Some clinics offer rapid HIV screening which can provide results in as quickly as 20 minutes.

The identities of persons who go for HIV screening and those found to be HIV-positive will be kept strictly confidential. A handful of clinics in Singapore offer anonymous HIV testing services.

Persons engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour (e.g. having multiple sexual partners or engaging in casual sex) should get tested regularly so that any STI are detected and treated as early as possible. HIV treatment can significantly delay the onset of AIDS and reduce the risk of death.

What To Do If You Have HIV/AIDS

Under the Infectious Diseases Act, it is an offence for persons who know that they are infected with HIV not to inform their sex partners of their HIV status before sexual intercourse.

If you believe that you have HIV/AIDS or are at risk of contracting it, you must:

  • take reasonable precautions to protect your sexual partner (e.g. by using condoms) or
  • go for HIV testing to confirm that you are HIV-negative or
  • inform your partner of the risk of contracting HIV

Treatment of HIV/AIDS

Currently, there is no cure for HIV infection. However, there are treatments in the form of anti-retroviral therapy can improve the immune system. These drugs suppress HIV virus replication, thus delaying the spread of HIV in the body and the onset of AIDS.

How HIV Spreads

HIV is transmitted by:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV-infected partner.
  • Sharing injection needles and other piercing instruments (e.g. for tattooing or acupuncture) that are tainted with HIV.
  • From an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, at birth, or through breastfeeding.
  • Receiving infected blood and blood products (e.g. organs, plasma).

HIV is NOT spread by social contact such as hugging and touching, through contact with objects such as food or toilet seats, or by insect bites.

Preventing HIV Infection

You can protect yourself from HIV infection by practicing the following:

  • Do not engage in casual sex.
  • Be faithful to your partner and be honest about your sexual history. If you are both unsure of your HIV status, consider going for HIV screening together.
  • If you have multiple sex partners, always practise safer sex by using condoms consistently and correctly. Although condoms do not give 100% protection from HIV, they provide at least 90% protection.
  • Use only clean, sterile needles and choose a reliable service provider when getting a piercing, tattoo or an injection.
  • Accept only HIV-screened blood for blood transfusions.

Handling the Deceased

Undertakers and Embalmers who have undergone basic infection control training are listed here.

For More Information

HPB's Heathline Tel: 1800-223 1313
Action for AIDS (Singapore) Tel: (65) 6254 0212
Email: info@afa.org.sg
Communicable Disease Centre Tel: (65) 6256 6011
DSC Clinic Tel: (65) 6293 9648 (appointments)
Tel: 1800-252 1324
(confidential counselling)

 

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