Five new HIV infections were detected after 180 individuals volunteered for the free and confidential HIV testing conducted during nine sessions between 2020 and 2022, according to the Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council (BDAIDS Council).
The free HIV testing is part of BDAIDS Council’s efforts to encourage HIV testing, hoping it will further convince the public that HIV testing is easy and necessary to ensure access to health services provided to HIV infected individuals.
Meanwhile, BDAIDS Council President Iswandy bin Ahmad lauded the importance of free and confidential HIV testing during the handing over ceremony of a new operation centre by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to the BDAIDS Council yesterday. Iswandy said the BDAIDS Council was grateful to the MoH for its continuous support since the establishment of the council 20 years ago.
“Long standing members still remember the stigma and misinformation on HIV and AIDS. It was really challenging in the past as fake messages were spread on how HIV is spread until people infected with HIV were outcast by the society including their own family members. “Fast forward to 2022, and the situation has improved whereby awareness on HIV and AIDS has increased with programmes like HIV Awareness Programme for Peers and Youths (HAPPY) which educate students and youth reaching 15 years. The progammes also received the Youth Project award last year during the National Youth Day celebration,” he said.
Iswandy said this year and supporting the UNAIDS theme, “Equalize is our slogan to take practical action in eradicating AIDS.
“It includes improving availability, quality and suitability services for HIV treatment, testing and prevention, so that everyone gets the best treatment and reform laws, policies and practices to address the stigma and exclusion faced by people living with HIV so that they are not marginalised.”
The BDAIDS Council’s new operation centre located within the Health Promotion Centre was officially launched by Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the MoH Dr Ang Swee Hui as the personal representative of the Permanent Secretary at the MoH at the ceremony. The operation is intended to be used as a ‘Base Centre’ for members of BDAIDS Council and Penyinar Club, volunteers and placement students to carry out work, projects, programmes and activities related to the association and HIV/AIDS.
In addition, it is a sign of continued support from the MoH to the BDAIDS Council in disseminating health information and campaigns related to HIV/AIDS. It is also a symbol of continued support from the ministry to the BDAIDS Council in disseminating health information and campaigns related to HIV/AIDS.
After the launch, Dr Ang Swee Hui and officials visited the new operation base of the BDAIDS Council.