Four confirmed HIV-positive under quick test-at-home program

Four people have been confirmed HIV- positive after using a home quick-test program launched by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last month.

The CDC started the HIV saliva quick-test program Sept. 1, and as of the end of that month, more than 1,000 people had used the test kits.

Citizens from Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung have used the test kits more than in other cities, but in terms of population, the ratio of Hualien citizens taking the test has been higher.

Huang Shih-tze (???), a doctor with the CDC, said that HIV patients can now be treated with better drugs, but some are unwilling to go to hospital for testing out of privacy concerns.

The CDC has offered saliva tests before, but on a small scale. This year, it is expanding the service by cooperating with civic groups, as well as the health bureaus of seven cities and counties, to install service stations at health bureaus, schools, saunas and coffee shops, as well as self-dispensing machines.

People can pay NT$200 (US$6.3) to buy the test kits and after completing the tests can register on a website to get the money reimbursed.

Under the program, the CDC is offering 10,000 test kits, which will be supplied until Dec. 15, or until supplies run out.

Over 1,000 kits have been distributed so far, and 11 people have initially tested positive. Among them, four were later confirmed to have been infected, two have been ruled free from infection, and five of them are still being monitored.

Huang said that that the saliva test is almost as accurate as a blood test. If people test positive, they need not panic and can go to a health bureau or designated hospital for further tests.

The saliva test is easy, and the results can be learned in 20 minutes, Huang said. To avoid a window period, he also advised a wait for three months before taking the test after unsafe sex.

Noting that Hualien Health Bureau is cooperating with convenience stores, which are distributing the test kits, Huang said that the CDC will follow suit if the results prove successful.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel