HIV self-test kits convenient, reduce stigma, experts

Jun 06, 2023

Using HIV self-test kits offers a number of advantages like privacy, but also reduce stigma especially for people who do not want to be seen testing

A lady demonstrates using oralquick

Agnes Kyotalengerire
Journalist @New Vision


Health experts assert that self- testing is the best strategy to address the issue of HIV related stigma.

In regard, about five years ago, government through the Health Ministry launched the HIV self-test strategy.

The self-test kits are additional testing tool to those in the routine testing mechanism. The only difference is that it is individuals that test themselves says the HIV/AIDS control program manager at the health ministry, Dr. Joshua Musinguzi.

Dr. Musinguzi says since the launch of the testing strategy, a number of self-test kits have been introduced to the market and the number is growing. These include: Oraquick self-test kits that were introduced in 2017 and Check Now kits that was launched by Abbott.

A Lady Demonstrates Using Oralquick

A Lady Demonstrates Using Oralquick

They are distributed mainly through antenatal clinics especially for women to give to their partners who do not accompany them, he says. The other beneficiaries include: communities especially those of key populations such as commercial sex workers.

Using HIV self-test kits offers a number of advantages. For instance, they offer privacy but also reduce stigma especially for people who do not want to be seen testing, and exposing their Sero status in health facilities, says Deborah Kyamagwa who is the learning officer Strengthening HIV Self-testing in the private sector.

As such an individual can test yourself at home, in your office or anywhere using the kit. They are also handy for individuals who do not have the time to queue up at a health facility just to get an HIV test. Yet, they could easily walk into the pharmacy, buy the self-test kit, read the instructions, get guided and then test themselves. Kyamagwa says.

However, Dr Musinguzi says people whose results turn positive after using the kits should do a confirmatory test using other rapid test kits used for diagnosis in health facilities.

The kits are available in public health facilities at free cost, however, they can also be bought from public health facilities and pharmacies. Prices for the kits range from Sh15,000 to Sh30,000 a pack.    

The director general at Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr. Nelson Musoba says the intervention is picking. “If the population is given information on this additional tool, it should be able to serve people who are either time constrained to get to the health facilities or because of stigma and discrimination,” Dr. Musoba notes. 

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