Taipei, Taiwan's testing process for acute human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been streamlined as 12 hospitals across the country began on Monday to offer final HIV diagnoses within an hour, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The new "one-stop" anonymous rapid HIV testing service, which detects HIV antibodies in the blood, gives a preliminary result in 20 minutes.
Patients who test positive for the virus then receive a second test immediately that gives a final result within 30 minutes, meaning the process is completed inside an hour, Huang Yen-fang chief of the CDC's division of chronic contagious diseases, said Monday.
Treatment for HIV-positive patients can begin the same day, Huang said at a press conference promoting the new process that 12 hospitals in Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung have started to provide.
Another 47 hospitals started to provide anonymous preliminary testing services the same day and will transfer HIV-positive cases to other medical facilities for a final diagnosis, Huang said.
The test kits used in the new service were the same as used by Taiwanese hospitals previously, but it took two to three weeks for HIV-infected patients to receive treatment after taking the initial test under the previous system.
Appointments were also required for a second test and subsequent treatment, which increased the risk of virus spreading, the CDC said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo said 610 people were diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2018, but 99 of them did not return to the hospital for final confirmation.
The new "one-stop" testing service will bridge the time gap between diagnosis and treatment, allowing more patients to receive timely medical and psychological support, the CDC said.
Huang said people who have had sexual intercourse should take at least one HIV test during their lifetime, and people who have had unsafe sex should take at least one HIV test every year.
As of the end of March, there were about 39,000 HIV-infected people in Taiwan and more than 18,000 of them live with AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), CDC statistics showed.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel