“Self -testing” in relation to HIV infection, means a prescribed test or series of tests for determining whether a person is infected with HIV. Which is carried out entirely by a person himself without the involvement of another person.
HIV self-testing (HIVST) is a convenient and confidential option for HIV testing. HIVST approach is defined as the process whereby an individual collects their specimen (blood/ oral fluid), performs HIV testing using an HIV Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT), and interprets the result themselves either assisted or unassisted. It is a safe, accurate, and effective way to reach people who may not test otherwise, including people from key populations, men, and young people. Lay users can perform HIVST reliably and accurately and achieve performance comparable to that of trained health-care workers.
The HIVST does not provide a definitive diagnosis. A reactive (positive) result always requires further confirmatory testing from a trained HIV Testing Services provider using the relevant, validated national HIV testing algorithm. Non-reactive HIVST results should be considered HIV negative, with no need for immediate further testing except for those starting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Those with invalid HIVST results need to repeat the test using another HIVST kit or to seek testing from a trained provider. Any person uncertain about their HIVST result should be encouraged to seek testing from a trained provider. HIV is not recommended for people with HIV who are on ART, as false-negative HIVST results can occur. Those who are HIV-positive but not on ART should be encouraged and supported to initiate ART. Re-testing following a negative self-test result is necessary only for those at ongoing risks. Such as people from populations and those reporting potential HIV exposure in the preceding 12 weeks.
HIVST kit can be distributed through various channels, including those supported by public or donor funding or in the private sector, as well as through public-private partnerships. A range of service delivery and distribution models are effective in increasing uptake of HIV testing and reaching people with HIV who are undiagnosed or those at ongoing HIV risk.
The ministry of Health recommends the following models:
- Community-based: Distribution during campaigns, at event, mobile outreach or home-based (door to door) distribution.
- Facility-based: Distribution from facilities or other fixed sites for use later or within the facility. Kits can be given to HIV-positive or HIV-negative clients for secondary distribution.
- Secondary distribution: Includes secondary distribution to partners or peers, including distribution by HIV-negative and HIV-positive clients.
- Pharmacies/Drug Stores: Kits provided at authorized pharmacies and drug stores, either ‘at no cost’ or ‘at a cost’ to users. For the latter, the price can be reduced through public-partnerships and the distribution of coupons or vouchers.
- Faith-based settings: Distribution from faith-based settings such as mosques and churches.
- Workplace: Distribution to workers for testing themselves and/or for their partners.
According to a follow-up workshop on journalist’ coverage about the HIV/AIDS in the Islands, organized by ZAC with support from AMREF- Africa-Tanzania. Executive Director of the Zanzibar AIDS Commission, Dr Ahmed Mohammed Khatib said journalists remain key stakeholders in helping to motivate the community, to know their HIV status, which is important in controlling their health problem
Dr Khatib informed journalists that from October to December 2020, a total of 31,906 women were tested for HIV against 25,927 men in Unguja and Pemba.
He said as December last year, a total of 7,020 people were living with HIV in Zanzibar where the proportional of women living with HIV and taking ARVS for women was 4,774 and men were 2,166, adding that 55 percent of men in Zanzibar are aware of their HIV status out of which. Only 64 percent are on ARV medication.
The targets aim to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 by achieving 95 percent diagnosed among all people living HIV;95 percent on antiretroviral therapy(ART) among diagnosed; and 95 percent virally suppressed(VS) among treated.
The Communications Coordinator from AMREF. Abubakar Ibrahim Msemo, urged journalists to write stories that will help people protect themselves from new HIV infections and other serious illness.