(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

For some men, getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) used to be an awkward process that involved stripping from the waist down and waiting for a nurse to take an uncomfortable rectal swab.

But a team at the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control – more commonly known as the DSC Clinic – has found a way to preserve patients’ privacy.

Rather than having nurses carry out the swab, which tests for gonorrhoea and chlamydia, the men can now do so themselves in the toilet.

The swabs are smaller and cause less discomfort than what was previously used. They are then sealed in a container and sent for testing.

The screening test is for men who have had sex with other men, and are concerned about infection even though they show no symptoms.

“Sometimes, their expressions would show that they were a bit uncomfortable, and shy about having to expose themselves,” said senior staff nurse Ahmad Shufi, who is part of the team behind the project.

The scheme won a bronze award at the Singapore Health and Biomedical Congress, organised by the National Healthcare Group, yesterday.


Sometimes, their expressions would show that they were a bit uncomfortable, and shy about having to expose themselves.

SENIOR STAFF NURSE AHMAD SHUFI, on men going through the screening test.

Another project highlighted was a method of diagnosing a rare skin condition on the spot using advanced 3D-imaging technology.

Miliaria profunda is a disorder that stops people from sweating and puts them at risk of overheating. Traditionally, the disorder is diagnosed through a skin biopsy sent for testing. The biopsy involves taking a small amount of skin tissue for testing.

But diagnosis done this way tends to be tricky, said Dr Tey Hong Liang, a senior consultant at the National Skin Centre (NSC).

“We have to put the tissue through processing and the chemicals can dry up the tissue,” he said. When this happens, certain details on the skin are lost.

With the new technique, doctors can look at what is happening to a person’s sweat glands in real time.

Dr Tey said that it is the first time the machine has been used outside Europe, where it is also being used to study skin cancer and other conditions.

Not only does it save patients the pain of a biopsy, but it also saves them time, as the issue can be diagnosed in one visit. Previously, they would need to visit the NSC three times, Dr Tey said.

“It’s a non-invasive method of skin imaging,” he added. “Studying patients’ skin in real time yields very fruitful results.”

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