|To commemorate the World AIDS Day and its 2019 slogan “Communities make the difference,” the Taiwan Centers of Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) hosted the “Work together to care for HIV/AIDS prevention” event at the National Palace Museum today (Nov. 29). Participants in today’s event included Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Ho Chi-kung, National Palace Museum Director Wu Mi-cha, members of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Patient Rights Protection Committee, NGO representatives and celebrity Matilda Tao. The participants got in the formation of a human red ribbon to appeal for care from among the general public in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the reduction of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), thereby moving towards the UNAIDS vision of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination.
Taiwan CDC stated that with the development of medical technology, HIV/AIDS prevention and control have made significant progress. However, due to the stereotypes of HIV/AIDS in the past, many people still believe the myths and the discriminating views about the disease. In order to strengthen the public's concept of HIV prevention, in recent years, Taiwan CDC has actively promoted various prevention strategies. In addition to continuing to publicize preventive measures such as safe sex, proper use of condoms, and preventive medication, Taiwan CDC also provides more private and convenient means of HIV screening by promoting the "HIV Self-Testing Program", allowing people to obtain screening reagents via automatic service machines, distribution points, online orders or neighboring convenience stores. This year, Taiwan CDC also cooperated with 12 hospitals to implement a "one-stop anonymous rapid HIV screening service" that can complete the progress from screening to diagnosis in less than one hour. Taiwan CDC hoped that the service can help more people understand their health status and receive early diagnosis and treatment. In order to make it easier for infected people to receive medicines and to stably control viral load, 13 designated pharmacies for HIV services have been added this year. At present, there are 42 such pharmacies in 14 counties and cities nationwide, making it easy for PLHA who have a doctor's prescription to get HIV medicine and health services nearby.
As of Nov. 26, the cumulative number of Taiwan nationals infected with HIV reached 39,514. Among them, 1,599 new infected nationals were added this year, a decrease of 202 (or 11%) compared with the same period last year. The number of newly infected nationals has dropped for two consecutive years and is at the lowest number since the same period in 2010. It is obvious that with the concerted efforts of all communities in Taiwan, HIV/AIDS prevention and control have shown effect. The number of newly infected fell the most among people at the age of 20 to 24, with a decrease of 118 (or 31%) from the same period last year.
In the future, Taiwan CDC will continue to work with all communities to promote health education and anti-discrimination campaigns to create a more comprehensive and convenient HIV screening and treatment channels, so that all PLHA will be fully cared for. Taiwan CDC called on people to recognize the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and control. For those who have sexual experience, it is recommended to have at least one HIV screening test in their lifetime; for those who regularly have sexual intercourse without condoms, it is recommended that they be screened at least once a year; for those who share needles, have multiple sexual partners, have combined use of addictive drugs, are infected with other sexually transmitted diseases or have other infection risks, they are recommended to be screened every three to six months. For more information, please visit the Taiwan CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov.tw), or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Consultation hotline 1922 (or 0800-001922).