WHO Is­sues New Guid­ance on HIV Self-Test­ing Ahead Of World AIDS Day

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Ahead of World AIDS Day to­day, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) re­leased new guide­lines on Tues­day on HIV self-test­ing to im­prove ac­cess to and up­take of HIV di­ag­no­sis. Ac­cord­ing to a new WHO progress re­port, lack of an HIV di­ag­no­sis is a ma­jor ob­sta­cle to im­ple­ment­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s rec­om­men­da­tion that ev­ery­one with HIV should be of­fered an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy (ART). The re­port re­vealed that more than 18 mil­lion peo­ple with HIV are cur­rently tak­ing ART, and a sim­i­lar num­ber is still un­able to ac­cess treat­ment, the ma­jor­ity of which are un­aware of their HIV pos­i­tive sta­tus.

To­day, 40 per cent of all peo­ple with HIV (over 14 mil­lion) re­main un­aware of their sta­tus. Many of these are peo­ple at higher risk of HIV in­fec­tion and of­ten find it dif­fi­cult to ac­cess ex­ist­ing test­ing ser­vices.

“Mil­lions of peo­ple with HIV are still miss­ing out on life-sav­ing treat­ment, which can also pre­vent HIV trans­mis­sion to oth­ers,” said Mar­garet Chan, WHO direc­tor-gen­eral. “HIV self-test­ing should open the door for many more peo­ple to know their HIV sta­tus and find out how to get treat­ment and ac­cess pre­ven­tion ser­vices.” HIV self-test­ing means peo­ple can use oral fluid or blood finger pricks to dis­cover their sta­tus in a pri­vate and con­ve­nient

set­ting. Re­sults are ready within 20 min­utes. HIV self-test­ing is a way to reach more peo­ple with un­di­ag­nosed HIV and rep­re­sents a step for­ward to em­power in­di­vid­u­als, di­ag­nose peo­ple ear­lier be­fore they be­come sick, bring ser­vices closer to where peo­ple live, and cre­ate de­mand for HIV test­ing. Be­tween 2005 and 2015, the pro­por­tion of peo­ple with HIV learn­ing of their sta­tus in­creased from 12 per cent to 60 per cent glob­ally. HIV test­ing cov­er­age re­mains low among var­i­ous pop­u­la­tion groups, es­pe­cially among “key pop­u­la­tions” and their part­ners -- men who have sex with men, sex work­ers, trans­gen­der peo­ple, peo­ple who in­ject drugs, and peo­ple in pris­ons -- who com­prise ap­prox­i­mately 44 per cent of the 1.9 mil­lion new adult HIV in­fec­tions that oc­cur each year.

HIV self-test­ing should open the door for many more peo­ple to know their HIV sta­tus and find out how to get treat­ment and ac­cess pre­ven­tion ser­vices.

Mar­garet Chan Lead In­ter­na­tional mem­berWHO direc­tor-gen­eral

14 mil­lion

peo­ple re­main un­aware of their HIV pos­i­tive sta­tus.

Cot­tfried Hirn­schall, direc­tor of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s De­part­ment of HIV and Global Hepati­tis Pro­gramme, shows a new progress re­port on HIV at a press con­fer­ence in Geneva, Switzer­land, on Tues­day.

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