To commemorate World AIDS Day and its theme for 2018 “Live life positively – know your HIV status,” Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) held a campaign entitled “Beat AIDS and be Healthy Together” on November 30. Taiwan CDC encouraged people who have had sex to get tested for HIV at least once to understand their health status. People infected with HIV but have no signs or symptoms, if test positive, can then proceed to receive early diagnosis and medical treatments, which are the keys to achieving the 90-90-90 targets: by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90% of diagnosed people on antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people in treatment with fully suppressed viral load. Taiwan CDC estimated that Taiwan has achieved 84%, 88%, 94% so far this year.
Legislators Wu Yu-qing and Chen Yi-ming, who have paid keen attention to HIV/AIDS prevention and control, representatives from NGOs, experts and scholars, as well as the well-known comedians group “Plungon” attended the event. Participants gathered and formed a large red ribbon to raise people’s health awareness, call for an open and friendly environment with no discrimination, and encourage more people to seek HIV testing proactively. Up to now, more than 400 hospitals and clinics, health bureaus and civic groups in Taiwan provide HIV testing services. Aside from that, starting from December 1, people can buy HIV blood-test kit via health bureaus or NGOs, or get an NT$ 200 oral fluid self-test kit from vending machines. People can then follow the instructions and receive rapid HIV tests at home. For detailed information, please visit http://hiva.cdc.gov.tw/oraltest/.
Taiwan CDC pointed out that with the cooperation among government departments, local health units and civic groups, Taiwan’s HIV/AIDS prevention and control has achieved remarkable results. This year, the number of new HIV infections has decreased, which was the second decline since the 2006 HIV/AIDS epidemic related to drug addiction. As of November 29 this year, the number of AIDS infections was 37,747, of which 1,819 were new diagnoses, showing a decline of 21% (a drop of 497 new patients) compared with the same period of last year. Further analysis showed that the most common risk factor for new HIV infections this year was unprotected sex (92%). An estimated 45% of people diagnosed with HIV were aged 25 to 34, followed by those aged 15-24 (25%). However, the numbers of HIV infections of both groups have reduced by 24% as compared with the same period last year.
To raise people’s HIV/AIDS awareness and to encourage more people to get tested, Taiwan CDC has adopted multiple strategies, including holding prevention campaigns, encouraging condom use, promoting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and providing medical care for the infected. With advice and experience worldwide as the reference, Taiwan CDC has also launched the HIV self-testing program and has advertised the program on social media. Taiwan CDC strives to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination and lower the barriers for people to obtain HIV testing so that more people can learn about their health status, get diagnosed and receive proper treatment in time.
Taiwan CDC stressed that early diagnosis and early treatment are the keys to controlling HIV infection. Therefore, it is recommended that people who have had sex get HIV testing at least once. Taiwan CDC will continue to provide comprehensive HIV testing and consulting services, implement immediate diagnosis and treatment, work towards reducing HIV infections and ending the HIV epidemic by 2030.