Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
Live life to the fullest, go on dates and enjoy a relationship – but don’t forget to protect yourself, and your loved one, from HIV. Learn how you can begin with ABCD now.
Preventing HIV is as easy as ABCD.
Find out how you can protect yourself with these four simple steps.
About HIV|Myths & Truths
Abstinence from casual sex is one of the best ways to protect yourself from HIV.
HIV is mainly transmitted by the exchanging of body fluids such as blood, pre-seminal fluids, semen and vaginal fluids. Having sex within a monogamous relationship or marriage, in which both parties have been tested and found to be negative for HIV, is the best way to prevent HIV.
So remember, there is no shame in saying ‘no’.
The spread of HIV in a population is directly affected by the rate of partner change, and whether relationships are concurrent or consecutive.
Having multiple sex partners, especially concurrently, increases your risk of contracting HIV. When you have sexual relations with one person, you are also exposed to his/her previous sexual partners.
To lower your risk of contracting HIV, it’s best to limit the number of lifetime sexual partners you have or, better still, practise monogamy. A monogamous and faithful relationship can greatly reduce your risk of contracting HIV, as it means that you and your partner only have sexual relations with each other.
Even then, both you and your partner should get tested for HIV before engaging in sexual relations, as you may not know each other’s sexual histories.
Be faithful and you will find yourself staying HIV-free.
If you choose not to abstain from having sex, then you should always practise safe sex. Using a condom each time you have sex can be effective in preventing and protecting yourself from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI).
However, condoms can only offer protection if used
consistently and correctly. Not using condoms puts you at high risk of contracting HIV or other STIs, while improper use can also diminish the protective effect of condoms.
Protect yourself by using condoms consistently and correctly.
HIV has no obvious telltale signs, and the only way to find out if you have HIV is to get tested. The HIV test detects the presence of HIV antibodies, which are produced by the body in response to a HIV infection.
Most people will develop HIV antibodies within one to three months of infection. However, depending on the individual, it can take anywhere between one to six months for the body to produce enough HIV antibodies to be detected by a HIV test. If you suspect that you may have been exposed to HIV, get yourself tested at least one month after the possible exposure. You should also take extra precaution by abstaining from sex until you get tested.
It’s important to get tested at least once every six months if you or your partner has engaged in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as:
You should also get screened for HIV if you:
You can get tested at polyclinics, private clinics and hospitals. In addition, there are
ten anonymous HIV test sites in Singapore, where personal particulars are not required when signing up for a HIV test, offering you complete privacy and confidentiality.
Rapid HIV test kits are used in anonymous HIV testing, and results can be available within 20 minutes.
If you test positive for HIV, you should start HIV treatment as soon as possible. Although there is no cure for HIV yet, antiretroviral therapy can help slow the progression of HIV and protect your immune system, allowing you to live an active and productive life. You can also find a local HIV support group and talk to others living with HIV.
In Singapore, persons with HIV are required by law to reveal their health status to their sex partner before sexual activities, and to medical and dental personnel before any invasive procedures.
Remember: Early detection helps control the spread of HIV and allows infected individuals to seek early treatment.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It can appear asymptomatic for many years before it develops into AIDS in the final stages.
A person with HIV has a harder time fighting off infections because HIV weakens the body’s immune defences by destroying white blood cells that protect the body against bacterial and viral attacks. Once weakened or destroyed, these white blood cells cannot effectively defend the body against infections.
HIV infection can also worsen some common diseases and conditions, and even increase the risk of getting certain cancers. If untreated, infected persons usually die from various infections and cancers, between 1.5 – 3 years after developing AIDS.
A person infected with HIV does not display any visible signs or symptoms. However, depending on the individual, someone with HIV may experience:
The only way to know for sure if one is infected is through an HIV test.
People who engage in high-risk sexual behaviours (e.g. having multiple sexual partners or engaging in casual sex) should get tested regularly so that HIV and other STIs can be detected and treated as early as possible. Early treatment can significantly delay the onset of AIDS and allow people living with HIV to still lead active and productive lives.
At present, there is no cure for HIV. However, treatments such as antiretroviral therapy can help suppress HIV virus replication, thus delaying the spread of HIV in the body and the onset of AIDS.
HIV is transmitted by:
HIV does not spread via casual social contact such as hugging and touching, through contact with objects such as food or toilet seats, or by insect bites.
Since 2008, the number of new HIV cases reported in Singapore is estimated to be at about 450 every year. In 2016, there were 408 new cases of HIV reported in Singapore. This brings the total number of HIV-infected people living in Singapore in 2016 to 7,548, of which 1,888 have since passed away.
Of the 408 cases reported in 2016, 93% were male, and 72% were between 20 to 49 years old. About 95% contracted the virus through sexual intercourse and 41% already had late-stage HIV infection when they were diagnosed.
World AIDS Day is held on 1st December every year. It is an opportunity for people all over the world to unite in the fight against HIV, lend their support to the people living with HIV and to remember the people who have died because of it. You can show your support for the millions of people living with HIV by wearing a red ribbon.
It’s important to get the facts straight about HIV. After all, it could be the difference between life and death.
If both parties are already infected with HIV, there is no need to use a condom during sexual intercourse.
There are different strains of HIV. If a condom is not used during sexual intercourse between two parties already infected with HIV, they may inadvertently exchange different types or strains of HIV with each other. This can lead to re-infection, which will make the treatment of HIV more difficult. In addition, the new HIV strain may become more resistant to the current treatment methods, or make them less effective.
Homosexual men and drug users are more susceptible to contracting HIV than other people.
In Singapore, almost all HIV infections occur through sexual intercourse. From January to October 2018, Heterosexual transmission was the mode of transmission for 45% of all cases, 43% were from homosexual transmission and 12% were from bisexual transmission.
Contracting HIV/AIDS is essentially a death sentence.
Although a cure for HIV/AIDS has yet to be found, it can be treated. Persons living with HIV/AIDS can continue to live active and productive lives for many years as long as they get regular treatment.
My partner tested negative for HIV, which means it is safe for us to have sex.
One negative HIV test result is not enough to guarantee that the person is completely HIV-free. Thus, it would be best if the person takes the first HIV test at least one month after the initial exposure to HIV, and another HIV test at least three months after that. He or she should also avoid any sexual activities during that period. It is only after the second test result comes back negative that the person can be assured of engaging in sexual intercourse without spreading HIV.
An HIV-positive person who receives antiretroviral treatment will no longer spread the virus.
Antiretroviral treatment helps to suppress HIV virus replication. It does not completely remove the infection. This means that HIV remains in the body and can still be transmitted to others.
Faithful and loving partners do not spread HIV.
Many people can live with HIV for many years without showing or experiencing any symptoms. This means that their partners may not even know if they are infected with HIV, and may unknowingly spread to each other. In addition, HIV can also be transmitted through non-sexual activities such as blood transfusions and the sharing of injection needles. Err on the side of caution – use a condom correctly and consistently during sexual intercourse, and get your partner and yourself tested for HIV.
HIV can be cured by having sex with a virgin.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS at the moment. However, HIV can be managed if detected early, and a person who receives regular treatment can go on to live an active and productive life.
HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted during oral sex.
Transmission of HIV occurs when there is an exchange of body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, blood, or pre-ejaculatory fluids. So it is still possible to be infected with HIV during oral sex if open wounds are present. These include cuts, sores or abrasions in the mouth or gums, and on the penis or vagina. It is best to avoid oral sex if you have any open wounds, or if you have a sexually transmitted infection. In any case, it is always good practice to protect yourself by using a condom when engaging in oral sex.
HIV can be spread as long as there is contact with saliva, such as through kissing or the sharing of utensils.
Although HIV is found in saliva, the amount is not sufficient for HIV to be transmitted.
HIV can be spread through non-sexual physical contact such as hugging, handshakes, sharing toilet seats, and from insect bites.
HIV can only be transmitted through an exchange of body fluids. It cannot be spread through physical contact unless you have an open wound that comes into contact with the body fluids (e.g. semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, blood or pre-ejaculatory fluids) of a HIV-infected person. Body fluids such as saliva, sweat and tears cannot transmit HIV. In addition, HIV cannot survive in insects, so the virus cannot be transmitted through insect or mosquito bites.
Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.