Nobel Winner Slams Singapore Over HIV Treatment Costs
March 10, 2010
Singapore's reliance on charging for HIV testing and treatment are counter-productive to prevention efforts, the co-discoverer of the virus said Thursday during a visit to the city-state. New HIV diagnoses in Singapore rose to 456 in 2008, up from 242 in 2003, according to the health ministry.
"The stigma, the fact that they have to pay for everything, it's the worst conditions for stimulating people to be tested and treated," said Francoise Barre-Sinoussi. "The numbers they announce are probably much lower than the numbers they have."
Most insurers do not cover the cost of HIV/AIDS treatments, which can be up to $1,500 (US $1,073) a month, said Stuart Koe, CEO of Fridae.com, Asia's largest gay Web site. Generic regimens are not on the market there, so doctors often advise patients to purchase them in Malaysia or Thailand, he said.
"It's a shame, because Singapore is considered by many to be a developed country," Koe said. "The HIV/AIDS community here is way behind most of the neighboring countries as a result."
In January, the government announced it would subsidize treatments for poor patients. Still, an anonymous HIV test costs $30 (US $21), according to Action for AIDS, Singapore's largest provider of anonymous screening.
"The situation is even worse than in developing countries not far from here," Barre-Sinoussi said. "In Cambodia, everything is free."
03.05.2010; Simeon Bennett, Bloomberg News
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.