Self-test kits for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will go on sale at two locations from Aug 1, even as new cases fell to 250 last year, the lowest in at least 18 years.
The National HIV Programme will introduce HIV self-testing to complement widely available tests at healthcare institutions such as polyclinics, hospitals and anonymous HIV test sites, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in a press statement yesterday.
People using the self-test kits will use an oral swab, and results can be obtained within 20 to 40 minutes. The kits, which cost between $20 and $32, will be available at the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections
Control clinic and the Action for Aids (AfA) Anonymous Test Site, from next month.
Professor Roy Chan, president of AfA, said: “The self-testing programme does not replace existing testing programmes. But this is another way of reaching our target, which is to end HIV by 2030.”
Those who test positive through the swab test should go to a healthcare provider to confirm the diagnosis and be referred for treatment, while those who test negative but engage in “high-risk sexual behaviour” are encouraged to test themselves regularly.
The new initiative comes even as the number of new cases fell from “about 320” each in 2018 and 2019, and 261 in 2020. Prof Chan said AfA has been working with “target key populations, such as homosexual men, sex workers and heterosexual men with multiple partners” on its prevention programmes.
Some 95 per cent of the new cases last year were male and 68 per cent were aged between 20 and 49 years old. Of the 250 new cases last year, 237 were infected via sexual intercourse. Some 57 per cent of the new cases last year were detected when the patients were already receiving medical treatment, either for HIV-related symptoms or unrelated ailments, and were typically at a late stage of HIV infection.
“Persons engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as having multiple sexual partners or engaging in casual or commercial sex, are strongly advised to use condoms to reduce their risk of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections,” said MOH and NCID.
The public can go to www.ncid.sg/nhivp for more information about HIV self-testing.
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