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Singapore's HIV/AIDS Cases Rise by Record Levels in 2006

New HIV/AIDS infections in Singapore rose by a record 357 cases in 2006, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the disease to 3,060, the Ministry of Health said .

The 2006 figures released Friday on the ministry's website showed an increase of 12.6 percent from 2005 when there were 317 new cases -- then a record high number of new infections -- from a population of just above four million.

More than 90 percent of new HIV cases detected in 2006 were through sexual transmission with two-thirds of the infections from heterosexual sex, the ministry said. Of the 3,060 cases overall in Singapore, 1,048 have died, 1,307 show no signs of the illness while 705 have AIDS-related illnesses, said the ministry.

More than half of those detected with the disease in 2006 were already at a late stage of HIV/AIDS infection, it said. "This was similar to the pattern in previous years," said the ministry. "There is thus an urgent need for persons who engage in high risk behaviour such as unprotected casual sex and intravenous drug abuse to test themselves for HIV," it said.

HIV is the virus that causes deadly Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is transmitted largely through unprotected sex and sharing intravenous needles. There is no cure for AIDS. It breaks down a person's immune system, rendering them vulnerable to infection and disease.

Singapore has expressed alarm over the growth of HIV infections but the government has rejected widespread promotion of condom use, preferring instead to focus on using more effective and cheaper methods such as preventing mother-to-child infections.


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