HIV testing: Confidentiality not the biggest challenge

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Out of 20 onlookers, only six could recognise – from a distance – the Action for Aids’  Mobile HIV Testing and Counselling Service van, which first started in 2011.

But little does anyone know that the service has seen nearly 2,000 clients in the last year. AFA revealed to The Independent Singapore that most of them are between the ages of 20 and 39. Gay men made up the bulk of its clients last year.

However, the number people who are HIV positive  is almost the same between homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Six homosexuals and five heterosexuals have tested positive for HIV at the mobile testing van, among 898 homosexual and 770 heterosexual clients.

An AFA spokesperson said: “AFA provides a $200 subsidy for clients to visit a hospital of their choice for follow-up treatment after the anonymous testing session for HIV-positive clients].”

AFA also offers peer support groups and financial assistance to buy HIV medication, said the spokesperson.

For the mobile testing van that has throttled around 57 venues in Singapore, anonymity is not the biggest challenge. “We do not take down any name, NRIC or passport details.”

“It is the trust in the reliability of the service that most clients are concerned about. Various persons will have various reasons for not wanting a test. For example, some may not want to address the fear of test results.”

The spokesperson also added that AFA has a track record for providing safe and hygienic tests at their Kelantan Lane’s clinic.

According to AFA, half of HIV-positive patients were already in the late-stage of HIV infection when they were diagnosed.

With the service, it hopes to promote early detection of the infection, and reduce the spread of HIV. Ministry of Health’s latest data show that there are 4,193 Singaporeans with HIV infection.

The next MTS venue will be at Wallich Street/ Peck Seah Street at 5 to 8 pm today.