Wed, Jun 25, 2008 - Page 2 News List

AIDS foundation encourages testing to reduce exposure

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Taiwan AIDS Foundation will launch the first National HIV Testing Day on Friday to ensure early detection and control of the disease among high-risk people, the foundation said yesterday.

“The earlier the disease is detected, the easier it is to control,” said Frank Shi (施柏南), the foundation chairman.

Shi said that on average, most HIV-positive patients aren’t confirmed until six years after they become infected because the virus has a long incubation period and people often delay seeking medical treatment because of their fear of discrimination.

Nicholas Papp, director of the American Institute in Taiwan’s American Cultural Center, who attended the press conference, said the slogan for HIV Testing Day in the US is “It’s better to know.”

“About 1 million people in the US are HIV-positive, and 25 percent of them do not even know,” Papp said, urging high risk people to “take the test and to take control.”

He suggested that, in particular, teenagers, homosexuals and bisexuals should be tested at least once a year and that pregnant women should also have themselves tested.

HIV Testing Day, observed annually on June 27, was first launched in the US in 1995 with the goal of encouraging people to have regular HIV tests and to raise awareness of the disease.

In Taiwan, there are 16,235 recorded cases of HIV infections to date, with the number of reported cases increasing by 15 percent to 20 percent annually.

However, the foundation said the actual number of infected individuals could be twice the number of reported cases.

Centers for Disease Control statistics show that, as of the end of last year, AIDS had claimed 1,834 lives in Taiwan.

The first reported HIV case in Taiwan was a foreigner who was diagnosed in late 1984.

The first reported case of a Taiwanese contracting HIV was in 1986.

HIV testing is available at public health centers, large hospitals and clinical laboratories, the foundation said, adding that HIV antibody quick-test kits can also be purchased at drug stores.

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