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Anonymous HIV testing goes mobile

To promote early detection of HIV, a community based organisation will bring anonymous testing onto the roads of Singapore for the first time.\n

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

8th December 2011 12:22

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

Action for Aids (AfA) launched on Wednesday a Mobile anonymous HIV Testing Service (MTS) van, equipped with clinical facilities to conduct testing of rapid HIV and syphilis – a sexually transmitted disease.

The van will visit various sites in Singapore and offer the anonymous test at $30. In conjunction with its launch, however, the test will be offered free for the month of December.

Before being tested, the individual will be required to fill in an anonymous questionnaire and results of the test will be disclosed within 20 minutes.

The service, which includes counseling, is managed by two full-time trained AfA staff with support from two volunteers.

AfA manager Anwar Hashim, who oversees this project, told Yahoo! Singapore the organisation wants to encourage other community based groups and companies to tap on its service and spread the awareness on early detection.

Early detection and treatment will also help improve health outcomes and also reduce the chance of people spreading the infection unknowingly, said AfA president Roy Chan.

Last year, a total of 441 Singapore residents were detected with HIV infection. But only 12 per cent of the cases were detected through voluntary testing, he noted.

Other cases were detected in the course of medical care and after a routine health screening, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

“We hope that with the launch of the mobile testing service, more people, especially those who are at high risk of contracting the HIV virus, will come forward to be tested,” he said.

Each year, more than 400 people are newly diagnosed with HIV. Last year, 54 per cent of those diagnosed were already at the late-stage of their infection. As of end 2010, there are a total of 4,845 Singaporeans infected with the virus.

The project, budgeted to cost about $191,000 annually, received a seed fund of $250,000 from M.A.C. AIDS fund.

The new service complements the Anonymous HIV Testing and Counselling clinic Service, which AfA provides at its DSC clinic at Kelantan Lane. The clinic operates three times a week and is one of the seven MOH-approved anonymous test sites in Singapore.