Singapore forms panel to fight HIV

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singaporeSINGAPORE - Singapore has formed a national policy committee to combat the rise of HIV cases, local media reported Monday.

The announcement came with the news that 137 HIV cases had been reported from July through October, bringing the total of new cases this year to 286, Channel NewsAsia quoted the Health Ministry as saying.

"I think the biggest issue and the most important thing is testing and I think we'll be talking more about that over the next few months," said senior state minister Balaji Sadasivan, who will chair the committee. "The fight against AIDS will be a long drawn fight."

The television station said the new committee would start work Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.

The Health Ministry said that of the 149 cases in the first six months of 2006, 94 percent were males. Most contracted the disease through sexual transmission from casual sex and sex with prostitutes in Singapore and overseas, the report said.

Fifty-nine percent of those infected were heterosexuals; homosexual made up 26 percent. The rest of the infections were bisexuals and intravenous drug users, the ministry said.

The Health Ministry said the 137 new infection between June and October are still undergoing investigation.

As of the end of June, a total of 2,852 Singaporeans have been infected with HIV since 1985. More than 1,000 have died.

source - AP