Poised to achieve the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 target by 2020, the Federal Government recently, launched and disseminated the Operational Guidelines for HIV Self-testing and Evaluation report of Alere HIV Combo Rapid Test Kit in Abuja.
Recommending the kit as a first line kit in the National HIV testing algorithm, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said that the Evaluation result of Alere HIV Combo rapid test kit had revealed that the kit performed better than all the test kits in the current National testing algorithm.
He explained that the kit performed better when compared with other kits in that it had a sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of 99.7%, 98.9% and 99.3% respectively.
Thus, for effective implementation of the HIV Self-testing (HIVST) in Nigeria, Adewole said the Operational Guidelines for the delivery of HIVST had been developed. These Guidelines, outlined the principles for HIVST delivery approaches and packages, quality assurances and coordination for HIVST in the country.
Reacting to the results of the HIV Survey conducted in the country recently, he said “from the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS)it indicated that the country had made significant progress in the control of HIV and was on course to meet the UNAIDS global 90-90-90 targets: to ensure that 90% of people who were infected with HIV knew their status, 90% of those who knew their status received antiretroviral therapy (ART) and 90% of those on ART were virally suppressed”.
According to the report of the Federal Ministry of Health on the event, the minister reassured the audience of the great impart of HIV self-testing (HIVST), as it will be an empowering and innovative way to help achieve the first 90 by reaching first-time testers, as well as creating demand for and enabling more people to receive HIV testing, particularly those with undiagnosed HIV or who were at high on-going risk and in need of frequent retesting.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Director, Public Health, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said that HIV testing was the entry point to accessing HIV prevention or treatment services.
She therefore commended the efforts of the National HIV Testing Task Team and the National Evaluation Team for the production of the Guideline and the successful completion of the test kit evaluation respectively while applauding the technical support from health sector development partners.
Also at the event, a member of the National Evaluation Team, Dr Ali Onoja, assured that a team had been set up to handle any question that might arise from the use of the kit.