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Published On: Tue, Sep 29th, 2020

Expert says access to HIV self-testing kits reduces prevalence

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From: Femi Oyelola, Kaduna

The Programme Director, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, (PSN) Foundation, Munir Elelu, has said to reduce HIV prevalence in Nigeria, people should have easy access to self-testing kits.
He made the assertion during a one-day Orientation of Community Pharmacists on Pre-Exposure prophylaxis of HIV (PrEP), and HIV Self-Testing in Nigeria in Kaduna yesterday.
According to him HIV Self-Testing, (HIVST) is a process whereby an individual collects his or her specimen, performs a test and interprets the results, often in a private setting either alone or with someone he or she trust.
“That’s why we are alerting community pharmacists to be on the look out and be part of this UN goal of reducing HIV prevalence in the country,” he said
Elelu said PSN Foundation, in collaboration with John Snow Inc. Nigeria (JSI), with the knowledge and backing of Federal Ministry of Health organized the program to increase access to HIV self-testing kits.
He added that this is in line with the United Nations’ AIDS programme goal to ensure that 95 per cent of the population know their HIV status and should also be able to access healthcare.
“This goal is universal, and we feel that in our community the first port of call for most people seeking healthcare is the community pharmacists, hence, we are orientating our community pharmacists to know how to increase access to these HIV self-testing kits. “
Also speaking, Chief of Party/Country Director of John Snow Inc. Nigeria, (JSI), Olawole Durosinmi-Etti, said JSI is in Kaduna to support the orientation of community Pharmacists on providing HIV self-testing services in Nigeria.
He explained that the activity is funded by USAID and Heartland Alliance Nigeria in collaboration with the Government .
Durosinmi-Etti further disclosed that JSI provides the technical support, and also leading the technical sessions of the activity.
In her own presentation, Programme Officer,of PSN, Pharm. Ijeoma Nwankwo, said HIV self-testing can be administered by anyone in private of one’s room or anywhere. And by the time he knows his status, should be able to easily access free healthcare.
Pharm. Nwankwo lamented that Nigeria has one of the largest HIV burden in the world with an estimated 1.9 million people living with HIV as at 2018.
“In 2018, about 67 per cent of People Living with HIV, (PLHIV), know their HIV status in Nigeria.
“ The operational guideline for the delivery of HIV self-testing in Nigeria was disseminated in December, 2018,” she said.

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