Nigerian Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Ajewole has said Nigerians will soon be able to get tested for HIV/AIDS from the comfort of their homes as a new HIV self-test kit has been approved.
The testing kit which was called Alere HIV Combo (AHC) Rapid Test Kit can be used by people at home without the help of a healthcare provider.
The Alere HIV test kits which can be run using blood gotten by pricking a finger or serum/plasma will produce a result in 20 minutes.
The Minister said the new HIV self-test kit is an addition to the existing methods of laboratory and hospital testing methods.
Prof Ajewole said Nigeria has made significant progress in meeting the UNAIDS global 90-90-90 target adding that HIV testing is very significant in meeting up with the agenda.
He said the new kit ”is something everyone should be able to walk into a drug store to purchase.”
“Testing for HIV is the first ‘knight’; in other words, we cannot successfully implement HIV testing, prevention, and management programme if we do not know our HIV status. We aim at improving the algorithm and making sure that we have convenient testing methodologies and this remains an essential component of our strategy,” he said.
According to the minister, the general myth about HIV is one of the reasons people find it difficult to go to hospitals to get tested.
”There is so much fear and the need for confidentiality. As such, any test that can be done by an individual should be welcome. It reduces stigma; it reduces the embarrassment that usually goes with HIV testing.”
Mr. Adewole also expressed fears that people who test positive using the test kit might present themselves at the health facilities for treatment.
“That for me is the greatest challenge. Because if you test positive and you do not move forward, then you have not helped the situation. That has created some challenges for many of us as to whether we should adopt self-testing or we should handle self-testing as one of those things that can be done but not deployed as republic health situation,” he said.
However, the kit is limited as it cannot pick the virus during the window period.