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Free HIV screening until year end (2020)

BY James Kon

Citizens and permanent residents aged 16 and above will be able to receive free HIV testing until December 31, with on Thursday’s launch of the ‘Expanded HIV Testing Programme at Private Clinics’ initiative for World AIDS Day 2020.

The participating private clinics are Ammaan Medical Clinic, CY Lim Clinic, Dr Prema Clinic, Riverview Medical Clinic, Vitaliv Health and Wellness Clinic and Wholistica Clinic and Wellness in the Brunei-Muara District, and the Panaga Health Centre in the Belait District.

At a press conference announcing the start of the initiative, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said, “The screening is a type of point of care testing, using the Rapid Test Kit. The person undergoing testing will obtain the results in just 15 to 20 minutes.”

“If the test results are positive, the person will be referred to the Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health (MoH) for further confirmation and treatment. Insya Allah, this screening test will be conducted from December 3-31,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said.

Meanwhile, Legislative Council (LegCo) member and Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council (BDAIDSCouncil) President Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad paid tribute to the Brunei Government’s efforts in controlling the COVID-19 situation. He said, “2020 has been an unprecedented year, with the world’s focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Alhamdulillah, Brunei has not had any COVID-19 infections at the community level for over seven months. This was accomplished due to the swift and firm response from the Brunei government, through collective coordination from the MoH.

“Some of these strategies include the use of extensive screening for the early detection of COVID-19, so that timely intervention could be done to limit its spread. Although different in many ways, early detection of HIV through testing is also an important component of the response to the HIV epidemic.

“Early HIV testing leads to early diagnosis. This is not just to ensure those who have been infected with HIV will be given early treatment, so that they can carry on living as usual, but early treatment also helps to prevent further transmission of the disease. People infected with HIV undergoing continuous treatment and with undetectable viral loads will not be able to infect others.

In conjunction with World AIDS Day 2020 this year, the BDAIDSCouncil and the MoH has collaborated to distribute a limited amount of small rapid HIV test kits to several participating private clinics nationwide.”

Also present at the press conference was Permanent Secretary at the MoH Haji Abdul Manap bin Othman, as well as deputy permanent secretaries, officers and staff from the MoH.

The press conference was also joined by Dr Hajah Rosmonaliza binti Haji Asli, consultant and head of the Disease Control Division, together with Dr Justin Wong, a public health expert from the MoH.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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