Newly adopted HIV test kits to help Nigeria combat HIV/AIDS
The Nigerian government through the Federal Ministry of Health has adopted eight new test kits to help win the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.
Speaking at the dissemination meeting, the Honorable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said that HIV self-testing (HIVST) was not only innovative, but it also empowers people to take charge and consequently help achieve the first of the United Nations 90–90–90 treatment targets – which has the goal of ensuring that 90% of all people with HIV should know their status by 2020.
The Minister said “HIVST will contribute to the attainment of the 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.”
“HIVST specifically refers to a process in which a person collects his or her own specimen (oral fluid or blood) and then performs a test and interprets the result, often in a private setting, either alone or with someone he or she trusts.”
“Self-testing is not a new concept; it is used in the diagnosis and management of other health conditions, such as pregnancy, diabetes and colon cancer. In this way, HIVST represents another step towards increasing patient’s autonomy, decentralizing services and creating demand for HIV testing among hard to reach populations” Prof. Adewole added.
Providing further clarification on the use of the HIVST kits, the minister said clear messages are provided to user on best practices. The messages will also help them recognize the fact that HIVST does not provide a definitive HIV-positive diagnosis. They are therefore informed of what to do should the test result turn out positive.
“A reactive (positive) self-test result will always require further testing and confirmation from a trained tester using the test kits in the national testing algorithm,” he said.
Professor Adewole also used the event to endorse report of the Round 3-Phase 1 evaluation stressing the need to implement it with adequate quality management systems.
He said, “I use this opportunity to endorse the report of Round 3-Phase 1 (Laboratory based) evaluation and direct the immediate implementation of the algorithm with quality management systems that will ensure a sustained quality and accessible HIV testing services in Nigeria.”
Expressing confidence on the availability of more testing options in the country, the Director of Public Health in the Ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige said that approval of the new algorithm in addition to other available algorithms would make quality HIV test kits readily available in the country.