Official statistics show an overall increase in the number of people getting HIV in Brunei Darussalam.

According to Brunei’s Minister of Health, 62% of the 265 confirmed cases of HIV were recorded since 2014, The Scoop reported.

The minister, Dr Haji Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar, noted the increase at an event held to mark World Aids Day on December 1.

Isham said HIV in Brunei affected men more than women, adding that men who have unprotected sexual intercourse with other men or have multiple partners face a bigger risk of contracting the disease.

The health minister also stressed the need for strengthening the reach of healthcare and improving healthcare quality for HIV patients.

He said the government should help provide a supportive environment and minimize the social stigma that people with HIV endure, as that adds social and mental issues on top of the disease.

Isham concluded by saying that an AIDS-free environment is possible if testing and treatment is available to everyone.

While AIDS has become a relatively manageable disease over the past decade, with increased availability of cheap anti-retroviral drugs, there are 37 million people who live with HIV, including 5.2 million in the Asia-Pacific region.