No HIV babies since screening started

First Published – 28 Jul 2006

NO BIRTHS of HIV-infected babies have been reported since the screening of others- to-be for the virus was introduced, said Prof K Satku, director of medical services for the Ministry of Health.

Speaking at the 14th Asean Task Force on AIDS meeting yesterday, Prof Satku told delegates of some measures taken by Singapore in its ongoing war on Aids.

He reported that the voluntary antenatal HIV screening programme, which was launched in December 2004, has seen a positive outcome.

“Nearly 100 per cent of pregnant mothers in our public hospitals have been screened for HIV, and we have not had any reports of babies born with HIV infection.

“During the 15 years before this programme, we had 20 HIV-infected children,” he said. He did not say whether any mothers were diagnosed with HIV.

Noting the importance of early diagnosis in reducing HIV-related mortality and new infections, he also highlighted how HIV testing, introduced as a standard of care since last year, is ramped up.

Since last July, HIV testing has been made a standard of care and is done whenever where is a medical indication.

In addition to this, his ministry was looking to increase the number of clinics that carry out anonymous HIV screening, although he did not give any figures.

Currently, three clinics – the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Clinic at Kelantan Lane, one at Kreta Ayer and the third at Geylang – conduct anonymous HIV screening.

“Even as we strive to scale up access to treatment, care and support, we must never forget that effective and sustainable prevention programmes must continue to feature prominently in our national and regional agendas,” he said.

“Prevention programmes save lives and reduce the economic and social burden on families and communities,” he added.

The latest MOH figures indicate that there were 255 new cases of HIV/Aids last year, taking the total number of Singaporeans infected with HIV/Aids to 2,641.

– TODAY, Sheralyn Tay