June 22, 2012
Action for AIDS' mobile van offering anonymous HIV testing in Singapore has proven successful, attracting about 500 testers during the past six months, according to a report in the local daily Straits Times. The popularity of the service seems to stem from the "anonymity, convenience, and how quick and easy the testing process is," said the advocacy group's spokesperson, citing feedback received.
About two-thirds of those tested are ages 20-39. In Singapore last year, almost 100 people age 29 and younger tested HIV-positive, compared with about 50 in 2005, Health Ministry statistics show. Altogether, 461 people tested positive last year, 20 more than in 2010.
Increasing numbers of people are being tested in areas such as the Geylang red-light district. Roy Chan, founder and president of Action for AIDS, wants "to reach out to persons who are at risk of HIV infection, but who, for whatever reasons, are afraid to go for testing at clinics." A recent study by the local Tan Tock Seng Hospital found that eight in 10 patients refuse to be tested in that setting.
Anyone who tests HIV-positive using the mobile service is referred for more blood tests at the Anonymous Test Site, located in a clinic run by the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control. The site saw an average of 560 people each month in the last six months.