By Lumbiwe Mwanza
International Aids Society Youth Champion Tanaka Chirombo observes that African countries need to strengthen follow up care services for persons utilizing HIV self testing kits.
Mr Chirombo says HIV Self Testing has potential to increase number of people knowing their HIV status, however the need for health care providers to make follow ups remains crucial.
“It is important to offer a robust pre- and post-test counseling service for individuals especially first-time users, people with low literacy and people who receive preliminary positive results” Mr. chirombo said.
Mr. chirombo explained that traditional forms of HIV testing offers healthcare providers an opportunity to start a conversation with individuals about HIV risk reduction, an element he says is lost when individuals choose to test at home, hence the need to strengthen follow up programs.
“To attain the 90–90–90 targets, which aims to diagnose 90 percent of all HIV-positive persons, to provide antiretroviral therapy for 90 percent of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90 percent of those treated by 2020, the approach towards encouraging people to test for HIV ought to improve” mr chirombo said.
mr chirombo added that research should be done to address some concerns that HIV self-testing kits could potentially put individuals at risk for violence with their partners.
He stated that incorporating self-testing into health care in emergency departments may be a way to increase access to HIV testing for some, while allowing clients to receive immediate counseling and follow-up care.