To ensure rapid response to emerging HIV cases in Nigeria, the Delta State Government has unveiled HIV Self Testing Services for screening of the suspected virus infection from the comfort of homes.
The launch which took place on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 in Asaba, was organised by the Delta State Agency for the Control of Aids (SACA) in collaboration with Faith Based Action for Scaling Up Testing and Treatment for Epidemic Response (FASTER Project).
The self-testing kit which gives complete privacy to individuals in identifying their HIV status, is part of a global response to enhance early detection and commencement of immediate treatment.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye disclosed that the state government has waived user fees for persons living with HIV to enable them have unhindered access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy, ART.
Explaining the process of the self-testing kits, Dr Ononye said it involves the collection of specimen orally, after which an individual could determine his or her HIV status.
The Commissioner listed the benefits of the private procedure to include massive testing in hard to reach regions especially in the riverine areas and the promotion of mutual partner testing to discourage unprotected sex.
The Executive Secretary, Delta SACA, Dr John Osuyali stated that since the establishment of the agency in the state, access to treatment and medication by HIV patients have greatly improved adding that more hospitals and centres have been activated to respond to positive cases.
On the self-testing, Dr Osuyali said that awareness of ones HIV status will increase global rapid response and described the procedure as convenient, affordable and easy to use, and encouraged those with positive results to seek help in the 53 comprehensive centers for HIV/AIDS treatment in the state.
The Secretary to Delta State Government represented by the Permanent Secretary Mr. Austin Oghoroh noted that over 40,000 patients were currently under treatment in the state, stressing the self-testing exercise would provide useful data for HIV programming.
In his remarks, Dr Emeka Anoje, Project Director, FASTER Project, Catholic Relief Services, acknowledged that HIV still remains a public health concern as it is a reality with new cases springing up in the sub-Sahara region.
A detailed demonstration on the procedure for the self-testing was presented which revealed that it only takes 20 minutes to determine the HIV status of an individual.
Highpoint of the event was the official launch of the HIV self-testing kits donated by FASTER Project for HIV case finding in Delta State.