Researchers warned the population could face a concentrated HIV epidemic
New research estimates there are 210,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) in Singapore.
A study by the National University of Singapore (NUS) said the population—more than double the previous estimates of 90,000—could be at risk of a concentrated epidemic of HIV.
The research published earlier this month named (MSM) as the largest of four key populations at risk of HIV infection in the city-state where gay sex is illegal.
Researchers scaled up a representative sample of 199 people who were asked how many MSM they knew.
‘The national size estimates of at-risk populations generated will help determine the magnitude and resources required for national HIV prevention and intervention efforts’ researchers said, according to Today online.
At least 5.6 million people live in Singapore.
‘The figure for MSM is somewhat larger than we thought’ said Roy Chan from Action for Aids (AfA) Singapore.
‘This is a useful study and give us a basis for program planning and resourcing’ he told Gay Star News. He said AfA used the projections for its blueprint to end HIV in the city.
But, the health professional said, the study should be repeated on a larger scale.
Criminalization and HIV in Singapore
About 7,600 Singaporeans are living with HIV, with 91% of people knowing their HIV status and 77% on anti-retroviral treatments.
A large proportion of HIV transmissions are between MSM.
In conservative Singapore, gay sex is punishableby up to two years in prison under Section 377A of the city state’s colonial-era penal code.
Authorities rarely use the law but the majority of Singaporeans support it.
HIV also dispraportionaately affects other marginalized people. These include sex workers, clients of sex workers, and people who inject drugs.
The NUS study said criminalization makes it harder to find out how HIV spreads.
Section 377A ‘amplifies discrimination against homosexual males, and therefore membership to this group may not always be known to their social contacts, resulting in transmission error’ researchers said.
Chan told Gay Star News society needed to accept and stop discriminating against MSM and gay men to end HIV.
‘This starts but does not end with the removal of laws that criminalize and stigmatize homosexual men’ he said.
Earlier this year, government data of 14,200 people living with HIV was leaked.
by Rik Glauert
Source – Gay Star News