With Valentine’s Day approaching, the Taiwan Centers for Diseases Control (Taiwan CDC) reminds the public to practice safe sex and always use condoms during sex. If you accidentally have unsafe sex, remember to receive HIV testing and start treatment if you are diagnosed with HIV. The “HIV Self-Testing Program” initiated by Taiwan CDC has served 7,771 people since December 2018. 4,950 test kits were provided via online ordering; 1,559 provided through vending machines. Compared to the program last year, the amount of test kits offered via the above two channels increased by 44% and 39%. Furthermore, though the blood-test kit was provided for the first time in this program, it has already been acquired by 1,262 people. There are still sufficient testing kits; do get one if you have the need.
To make HIV testing convenient but still private, the government is implementing the “HIV Self-Testing Program”. The public can order online and get oral fluid self-test kits from 3 convenience stores, including Family Mart, OK and Hi-Life, at a price of NT$245 (NT$200 for the testing kit, NT$45 for delivery fee). The public can also get either the NT$200 blood-test kit or the NT$200 oral fluid self-test kit from 401 sites set up by health bureaus and NGOs, or from 26 vending machines nationwide. Early diagnosis and early treatment are the keys to controlling HIV infection. Taiwan CDC encouraged people who have had sex to get tested for HIV at least once to understand their health status.
According to the data from Taiwan CDC, there were 1,993 new HIV infections in 2018. The number was the lowest since 2012, and it was a 21% decrease compared to the number in 2017. In 2018, “unprotected sex” was the main cause of HIV infection. Most new HIV infections were aged 25-34 (34%), followed by 15-24 (26%); however, the infection rates of both age groups decreased by 22% and 23% compared to 2017, showing a successful HIV/AIDS prevention strategy. People should receive HIV testing proactively and start treatment if being diagnosed with HIV. This can help reduce a person’s viral load, which is beneficial to the patient and can prevent the virus from being passed on to other people.
Taiwan CDC once again reminded people who have had sex to receive HIV testing at least once. Those who have sex without condoms are advised to get tested at least once a year. Higher-risk groups (e.g., those who: share needles to inject drugs, have multiple sexual partners, engage in chemsex, or are infected with sexually transmitted diseases) should test for HIV every 3-6 months. For more information about HIV/AIDS, please visit the Taiwan CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov.tw or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Consultation Hotline, 1922 (or 0800-001922).