NGO advocates adoption of HIV self-testing kit for epidemic response
The faster Project of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a non-governmental organisation, has advocated the adoption of HIV self-testing kit as an effective strategy in scaling-up HIV testing for epidemic response.
Dr. Chizoba Mbanefo, Project Director, CRS, said this at a one-day symposium on HIV Self-testing Programming (HIVST) in Nigeria, organised by FASTER.
According to her, the two-year programme, from 2019 to 2021, was designed to accelerate progress in paediatric HIV diagnosis and treatment in four countries – Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia – that were identified due to their high unmet need for child and adolescent antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The Director said the HIV self-testing services was one of the innovative strategies and approach required to increase uptake of HIV testing services, especially for a population with low access and higher risk of HIV.
She highlighted some of its achievements as demand creation and service delivery, where FASTER distributed 100,000 HIV self-test kits to clients across 282 service delivery points such as health facilities, community pharmacies, traditional birth attendants, among others.
She added that the project was implemented in conjunction with the US Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) in seven states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
On her part, Mrs. Sabina Aiki, a Senior Scientific Officer, Department of National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) of the Federal Ministry of Health, noted that it was very imperative for Nigeria to review its policy on HIV self-testing.
She said an updated guideline on HIV self-testing would redirect an individual who might want to carry out the test. She said the guidelines introduced in 2018 were long overdue for review.