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Stakeholders take stock of HIV self-testing campaign effort

By Idara Akaniyene
15 December 2021   |   3:56 am
The Faster Project of the Catholic Relief Services Nigeria (CRS) is bringing HIV stakeholders together to take stock and review achievements recorded in ensuring that children and adolescents left behind ...

The Faster Project of the Catholic Relief Services Nigeria (CRS) is bringing HIV stakeholders together to take stock and review achievements recorded in ensuring that children and adolescents left behind due to barriers associated with conventional HIV testing models and, particularly given the COVID-19 enforced disruptions to HIV testing, are reached. 

Dr. Chizoba Mbanefo, FASTER Project Director of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Nigeria says “HIVST strategy has shown that one of the best ways to find new HIV cases is putting demand creation in the hands of the adolescents themselves and closely engaging parents and caregivers.”

Stakeholders expected at the meet include National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), among others.

WHO, UNAIDS, National AIDS and STDs Control Programme (NASCP), USAID, Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) and other HIV implementing partners.

HIV self-testing (HIVST) allows individuals to collect their sample (either oral- or blood-based), conduct the test, and interpret the results privately or with someone that they trust. More recently, the Federal Ministry of Health incorporated HIVST into the revised National HIV and AIDS strategic framework 2019–2021, as a priority policy and programmatic approach to HIV response in Nigeria.

To be sure, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has encouraged people to take advantage of the self-testing HIV kits that are now available globally. The global health body says doing so will enable people to detect their HIV status privately, and enable them to take decisive steps in addressing the outcomes, according to its verified Twitter handle @WHO. The WHO message was marked with hashtag #SelfCare.

Taking stock, issues that stakeholder shall be deliberating on include: Improving Case finding amongst paediatrics adolescent populations using HIVST, HIVST Research to Implementation with recommendations, updates on HIVST national policy and guidelines and improving case finding through public and private sector collaboration- partnership with Community Pharmacies and other stakeholders. These issues would be reviewed through panel discussions that promises to reveal next steps in the program implementation with a clear cut direction for Nigeria. 

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