‘14m Peo­ple Ig­no­rant of Their HIV Sta­tus Glob­ally’

THISDAY - - NEWS EXTRA - Sen­a­tor Iroegbu in Abuja

The Min­is­ter of Health, Prof. Isaac Ade­wole, has said that more than 14 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing with HIV glob­ally which is about 40 per cent of all peo­ple with HIV do not know their sta­tus.

He said that it is in view of this that the WHO launched new guide­lines on HIV self-test­ing dur­ing the World AIDS Day in 2016 in order to in­crease HIV Test­ing among those at high risk of HIV and sup­port ear­lier di­ag­no­sis and ac­cess to treat­ment and pre­ven­tion.

Ade­wole stated this yes­ter­day in Abuja at the dis­sem­i­na­tion meet­ing of the eval­u­a­tion re­ports of Amethyst HIV 1 & 2 Self-Test Kit Saliva Cas­settes for HIV self-test­ing and ten an­ti­body-based HIV Rapid Test Kits

He said that the key rec­om­men­da­tion of the guide­lines was that HIV self-test­ing (HIVST) should be of­fered as an ad­di­tional ap­proach to HIV test­ing ser­vices.

Ac­cord­ing to him, HIV test­ing is the gate­way to HIV treat­ment and care ser­vices.

The Min­is­ter noted that in Nige­ria, like other coun­tries in the world, de­tec­tion of spe­cific an­ti­bod­ies in the blood or other body flu­ids is the main, eas­ily af­ford­able method and stan­dard pro­ce­dure for the di­ag­no­sis of HIV in­fec­tion.

Speak­ing on the im­por­tance of self-test­ing to the pos­si­ble erad­i­ca­tion of HIV preva­lence, Ade­wole said: “HIV self-test­ing is a new strat­egy in­tended to ad­dress chal­lenges of in­creas­ing ac­cess to pre­lim­i­nary knowl­edge of sero-sta­tus. It pro­vides the pos­si­bil­ity for test­ing more peo­ple than ever be­fore. HIVST gives ben­e­fits of ac­cess to treat­ment, self- check­ing of HIV sta­tus which is con­ve­nient and con­fi­den­tial.

“HIV self-test­ing (HIVST) is an em­pow­er­ing and in­no­va­tive way to help achieve the first of the United Na­tions 90–90–90 treat­ment tar­gets – which pro­vides that 90% of all peo­ple with HIV should know their sta­tus by 2020. HIVST will con­trib­ute to the at­tain­ment of this global tar­get by reach­ing first-time testers, as well as cre­at­ing de­mand for and en­abling more peo­ple to re­ceive HIV test­ing, par­tic­u­larly the high-risk pop­u­la­tion,” he ex­plained.

He said in a coun­try with a grad­u­ally im­prov­ing econ­omy like ours, HIVST in­creases the ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness of the health sys­tem by fo­cus­ing health ser­vices and re­sources on those with re­ac­tive self-test re­sults who are in need of fur­ther test­ing, sup­port and re­fer­ral, thereby di­rect­ing ser­vices more ap­pro­pri­ately.

“In­di­vid­u­als with re­ac­tive self-test re­sults who dis­close their re­sult to a provider should be ad­vised and re­ferred for clin­i­cal ser­vices for ad­di­tional HIV test­ing, and where the HIV pos­i­tive di­ag­no­sis is con­firmed, the in­di­vid­ual should be re­ferred for treat­ment and care. In­di­vid­u­als with a non­re­ac­tive self-test re­sult who dis­close their re­sult to a provider will usu­ally not re­quire fur­ther test­ing, but need to be tested within 6 to 12 weeks if they are at high risk of HIV in­fec­tion”, he ad­vised.

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