Concerns raised over performance of HIV self-test kits in Nigeria

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NACA DG warns Nigerians on the use of self-test HIV kits…

Sani Aliyu, Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, NACA, has expressed concerns over the performance of HIV self-test kits in Nigeria which could in enabling more Nigerians to know their HIV status.

“The problem with some of the self-test kits is their performance,” Aliyu said. “Whenever a new test assay is introduced into the market, we need to do field testing to make sure they work very well. In addition to that, some infections like HIV require some degree of counselling before the test. Imagine if you put yourself in a room and you are worried and you decided to do the test yourself and don’t do it properly and you get a false positive result, the psychological effect could be devastating.”

He told Premium Times that increasingly in the developed countries, there is a push towards the self test and he added that the performance is the feature that has encouraged the use of the kit.

“It is actually a good idea but there can be problem about the handling and the storage of the kit. Even the storage of the test kits can affect the performance of the kit,” he said.

“For a disease like HIV where the prevalence rate is very low, the lower the prevalence rate, that is the positive predictive valve is very high, and you are likely to get a false positive result.”

He cautioned that any sort of intervention that can be done to get people tested is a good idea.

“But if you are buying a test kit or you are doing a test using a self-test kit, make sure that it is registered with the right authority such as NAFDAC etc. Make sure that you get it from a genuine and not just from the internet and make sure that you have appropriate counselling. More importantly, if it gives you a positive result, don’t rely on the result, go on and have a proper test so that you can know whether it is truly positive or not,” he said.

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Paul is a freelance journalist, medical researcher and extensively published author. He holds a MSc degree in cell biology and genetics, and is a PhD candidate of the University of Ibadan

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