December 11, 2012
The advocacy group Action for AIDS (AfA) in Singapore reports that more individuals are taking anonymous HIV tests. So far, 1,368 persons have been tested for HIV at AfA's mobile van in the past 11 months. Of this number, seven persons tested positive. The van started testing in December 2011. Another site, the Anonymous Test Site, which works at a clinic operated by the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control, tested 540 individuals during one month of this year. This clinic conducts more comprehensive blood tests. A total of 5, 521 persons in Singapore have been diagnosed with HIV.
Dr. Amy Khor, minister of state for health, said that stigma and discrimination create an unnecessary barrier to early detection and treatment of at-risk persons. She stated that individuals may be shunned by their family, rejected by friends, or lose their jobs if it were known that they tested positive. As a result, they are afraid of taking the test to the detriment of their health and the increased possibility of exposing their sexual partners to the risk of HIV infection.
To fight the fear and stigma, Tan Tock Seng Hospital became the first public hospital to launch an HIV stigma and discrimination campaign called the Power to Change is Within You. Banners, posters, and stickers will be displayed around the hospital, the Communicable Disease Centre, and clinics. Also, stories and positive experiences of HIV patients and healthcare workers who have treated such patients will be highlighted. The aim is to help persons with HIV think more positively and to demonstrate to the public that persons with HIV can continue to live normal lives.