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23 May 2008

3.1% of MSM found to be HIV in landmark testing project in Singapore

A recent project by Action for AIDS Singapore to make HIV testing more accessible found that 30 of the 960 MSM who took the test to be HIV-positive. AfA and Fridae.com unveil a new campaign We Can Stop AIDS Now.

3.1% of men who have sex with men (MSM) were found to be HIV-infected in a landmark project to make HIV testing more accessible to the MSM community. Nine hundred and sixty MSM volunteered for the free and anonymous testing service at MSM frequented venues, of which 30 tested positive for HIV.

AfA and Fridae.com are launching a new campaign We Can Stop AIDS Now.

This HIV prevalence among MSM is one of the lowest in the region.
The objective of the initiative was to enhance HIV awareness, encourage HIV testing and gauge the acceptability of community based HIV-testing among MSM in Singapore. The project was conducted by Action for AIDS (AfA) at venues and establishments frequented by MSM between December 2007 and February 2008, using the OraQuick test.

The effort was warmly received by people who participated in the outreach. Both members of the community and business owners were quick to praise the initiative, which was titled 'Take the Test. Take Control.' One participant remarked, "Getting an HIV test can be a scary experience, but knowing one's status is really quite a liberating experience." It was his first HIV test, as it was for 27% of those who participated in the project.

"These findings suggest that while MSM are at high-risk for HIV infection, scaled up and targeted AIDS campaigns that include clear messages emphasising correct and consistent condom use during anal intercourse and regular HIV testing have been effective in keeping the HIV prevalence among Singaporean MSM relatively low," says Mr Daniel Tung, AfA's MSM programme director.

"However the community must not become complacent, we cannot afford to drop our guard of adopting safer sex practices and specifically 100% condom use for anal intercourse. Complacency has been the case in many other cities that have recently documented alarming increases in HIV prevalence among MSM."

In a post-campaign survey following last year's *Think Again campaign, unprotected anal sex between men was found to have been reduced by between 22-27% compared to the statistics from the Behavioural Surveillance Studies (BSS) conducted by Fridae in 2006.

In the 2006 BSS, 46.9% of MSM surveyed had an HIV test in the preceding 12 months. The proportion of recent HIV testing is a result of community efforts to raise the awareness of the risk of HIV within the MSM community. AfA is aiming for this number to hit 80% by 2011.

To emphasise the message of personal responsibility, AfA, together with gay media company Fridae.com are launching a new campaign We Can Stop AIDS Now. The campaign focuses on individual empowerment, and shows how HIV transmission can stop today if everyone plays their role. Campaign materials can be found at venues frequented by MSM, or by logging into www.stopaidsnow.info.

Action for AIDS would like to thank the community, business owners and volunteers who participated in this important project, and the Ministry of Health for providing the funding.

Regional HIV prevalence rates among MSM

City/Country Prevalence
Beijing, China ^ 3.1 %
Hong Kong, China # 4.05 %
Taiwan ^ 8 %
Tokyo, Japan ^ 4.4 %
Bangkok, Thailand ^ 28.3 %

^ Source: Treat Asia report: MSM and HIV/AIDS risk in Asia. New York: AmFar, 2006
# Source: HIV Prevalence and Risk behavioural survey of men who have sex with men in Hong Kong 2006, Factsheet on PRiSM 2006
Note: Because of difference in methodology, the prevalence data can be used for reference only but not direct comparison.


Reader's Comments

1. 2008-05-23 19:53  
how can we help to contribute to the campaign?
2. 2008-05-23 20:47  
Thats so good that Singaporean MSM have reduced unprotected anal sex... and this result as the article points out is a warning not to be compacent. Please keep it up guys.. please.
3. 2008-05-24 00:58  
No condom = no sex !! Lets all standup and do it together !! Only you...yourself can help to reduce the AIDS and related STDs through frequent use of the rubber....!
4. 2008-05-24 12:04  
5. 2008-05-26 00:19  
where to get free and anonymous test in Singapore?
6. 2008-05-26 10:36  
Use rubber at all times...
No oral w/o protection when one has ulcers or suspect of gum problems.
Gum problems like gum bleeding or swollen gums can increase the rick of getting HIV.
Play safe... Have fun...
Comment #7 was deleted by its author
Comment #8 was deleted by its author
9. 2008-06-02 15:05  
I get tested 2 times a year, some people 4 times while others 1. Of 960 tested at a certain venue and we get the 3.1%, that is not accurate. These figures are just guess works unless we do a national survey and gays admit that they are gays.

An advice to all : If by any chance, if you get infected somehow, who should you shift the blame to ? Note that the cost of treatment medication averages about S$6,000 a year and it is a lifetime affair. What % of us can afford that here ?

Play safe. Do not believe in anyone, not even even your BF. Most are cheaters and they are the most dangerous.
10. 2008-07-05 15:20  
Is the figure for China/HK is true?
A most endorsed for coverup country.

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