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Singapore Hospitals Begin Testing Pregnant Women for HIV; 20% of Women at One Hospital Opt Out of Test

December 17, 2004

Singapore hospitals on Dec. 8 began voluntary HIV testing for pregnant women, but so far 20% of pregnant women at Kandang Kerbau Women's and Children's Hospital have opted out of testing, Singapore's Straits Times reports (Khalik, Straits Times, 12/16). Dr. Balaji Sadasivan, senior minister of state for the Ministry of Health, two weeks ago announced a plan to test all pregnant women for HIV -- unless they opt out of it -- in hopes of stemming the spread of the disease (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/7). Balaji said that if the rate of women who opt out of testing and the number of infants born with HIV in Singapore are both high, the ministry would consider implementing compulsory HIV testing for all pregnant women, according to the Straits Times (Straits Times, 12/16). KK Women's and Children's Hospital administers care to about one-third of all pregnant women in Singapore, according to the Associated Press. An unnamed spokesperson for the hospital said that most women who opted out of HIV testing said they thought it was unnecessary or said they had been tested during previous pregnancies (Associated Press, 12/15). Most of the new HIV cases in Singapore have been among men who have sex with women who contract the disease through "casual" sex or sex with commercial sex workers, according to AFP/Hindustan Times (AFP/Hindustan Times, 12/15).

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