The number of designated hospitals and pharmacies that provide medical care and medicine to HIV and AIDS patients will increase next year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on Friday, at a news conference to mark World AIDS day.
CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said an additional four hospitals will be designated to provide medical care to HIV and AIDS patients, bringing the total to 73.
Designated pharmacies where the patients can obtain HIV medicines, as well as advice, will increase from four this year to 17, Chou said, adding that care for HIV and AIDS patients is becoming more relaible, but is still mainly offered at major hospitals.
From next year, infectious disease specialists from designated hospitals will hold practice at community clinics and the nation’s first HIV and AIDS clinic is to open on a trial basis in the greater Taipei area, he said, adding that it aims to improve convenience and shorten the distance patients need to travel to get medical care.
Of the 35,581 people in Taiwan diagnosed as HIV-positive until October, 29,625 were still alive that month, CDC statistics showed.
However, an estimated 6 percent to 10 percent of HIV-positive people were not seeking medical care, the agency said, adding that people in this group have difficulty keeping virus levels down and as a result might fall severely ill, infect others or die.
An HIV patient, using the pseudonym “Lady Bug,” at the news conference on Friday said that one of the things he feared the most was “neighbors’ questions affecting his family.”
He relies on his family and a caregiver for support and care, as he suffered a stroke after becoming infected with HIV, he said, adding that as medical treatment improves and by taking medicine on time, he has been able to lower virus levels in his body to undetectable levels, allowing him to live normally.
Lady Bug’s sister said she had been afraid they would not be able to find a caregiver for him, but the person they found agreed to the job without hesitation, which gave her the feeling that society’s views are becoming more understanding toward HIV patients.
Chou said the CDC is working toward a goal of zero infections, zero deaths and zero discrimination.
This year’s motto for World AIDS Day was “My health, my right,” and the agency seeks to raise awareness about HIV prevention, and to dispel stigma and discrimination to ensure that HIV patients are treated with respect, dignity and care, Chou said.
World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988 and is held on Dec. 1 each year.
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