Convenient HIV testing on the move

PHOTO: Convenient HIV testing on the move

SINGAPORE - You can now get tested for HIV or Aids at a neighbourhood or office compound nearby.

A roving van, called the Mobile anony- mous HIV Testing Service (MTS), was launched yesterday by Action for Aids (AfA) to provide convenient testing under anonymity.

The first-of-its-kind vehicle is equipped with clinical facilities to administer tests for HIV, as well as syphilis, with a 97 per cent accuracy rate. It will be deployed across Singapore for up to five days a week and is available for bookings by corporations.

Free screening will be available until the end of this month, after which $30 will be charged for each test.

AfA said that it has received more than five inquiries from firms regarding the vehicle's availability.

The MTS will be deployed with two trained health-care workers on board, who will admi- nister the tests and provide counselling services.

To ensure anonymity, individuals will be assigned a unique identification number - without names stated - upon registration. The screening is done quickly using a test strip and blood from a prick in the thumb.

AfA's president, Professor Roy Chan, said that the aim of the MTS is to make HIV testing more acces- sible and to address the fear that people have of being recognised when getting tested at clinics.

Every year, about 400 Singaporeans learn that they have HIV. As of October, there were 370 new reported cases here and this year's overall figure is expected to equal last year's tally of 441 cases.

Prof Chan said that the discussion of HIV remains largely taboo here.

"People don't like talking about it. So we go out with the MTS to raise awareness."

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