AfA launches campaign to de-stigmatise HIV testing

SINGAPORE - Who says HIV testing is shameful? Get tested today.

This is the message Action for AIDS (AfA) Singapore is trying to get to the average youth out there.

According to AfA, the number of people testing positive for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has been increasing steadily over the last ten years.

At the end of 2010, 441 people tested positive for HIV. Out of this number, 55 per cent were found to be in the late stage of infection.

In light of this, AfA has launched a campaign to get people talking about HIV testing so as to remove the stigma involved - and hopefully get more people living with HIV diagnosed early.

In a teaser lead-up to the campaign, titled "So Whazz Up?", AfA volunteers have been conducting walk-abouts in Orchard giving out paper fans encouraging the public to log into the campaign microsite http://www.sowhazzup.com/.

As for the main campaign, AfA will be using story telling, youth leaders and ambassadors to encourage testing and change perception.

The youth leaders and ambassadors will share their personal experience of taking a HIV test, including their motivations for doing so and how they felt before, during and after the test.

Raymond Chen, a local actor who has recently finished filming as the main lead in an upcoming movie called The Red Connection, will be staring in a upcoming walk-through that shows the audience how the process of HIV testing is like.

This is to normalise HIV testing, which is especially crucial seeing the level of stigma associated to it - demonstrated by the overwhelming opt-out rate of HIV testing at hospitals.

One of the more common beliefs is that being tested HIV positive is a dead end. In reality, enormous advances in the management of HIV means that many can continue to lead rich and fufilling lives with an early diagnosis.

Members of the public interested to take the test can do so at the anonymous AfA testing clinic located at 31 Kelantan Lane #01-15 or at their Mobile Testing Van.

No name is requested during registration and no records are kept, even if the test is positive.

Interested parties are invited to go to their facebook page at www.facebook.com/BePositive or call the helpline at 6254 0210 for more information.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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