OraQuick, a new HIV self-test kit, has been introduced in Nigeria to drive fight against the virus in the country.
Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, through the National AIDS and STDs Control Programme (NASCP), has confirmed the efficiency of a new HIV self-test kit for use in Nigeria after recognising its ability to identify and detect HIV antibodies with a 98.4 per cent specificity and sensitivity.
NASCP was instituted to complement efforts by the ministry of health towards the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Organiser of NASCP, Dr. Godwin Emmanuel, in a statement, gave a report on the OraQuick HIV self-test launch.
According to him, the new HIV self-test kit, known as OraQuick, is certified by WHO, the United States Food and Drug Administration and Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
He noted that the kit was being used in over 50 countries.
His words: “As part of measures to promote HIV self-testing by the ministry, OraQuick HIV self-test kit was recently evaluated by the Federal Ministry of Health across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
“This is in line with national guidelines to assess the efficacy of the test kits for use in Nigeria.
“The evaluation showed 98.4 per cent specificity and sensitivity to detect HIV antibodies I and II among Nigerians.
“This, therefore, affirms greater confidentiality and privacy from individuals who will purchase the easy-to-use, pocket-friendly diagnostic kit from a designated outlet.
“The self-run test can be done in the privacy of one’s home or other desired locations, without the knowledge of anyone.”
Emmanuel agreed that a lot of people living with HIV in Nigeria were not aware of their status and that the country still had a long way to go as regards meeting the recommended number of HIV testing centres and counselling sites needed.
He added that the HIV self-test had been identified as one that would contribute to the attainment of the UNAIDS global 95-95-95 goals.
This implies that 95 per cent of people living with HIV should know their status, 95 per cent of people who know their status should access treatment, and 95 per cent of people on treatment should achieve suppressed viral loads.
The OraQuick self-test kit affords people the confidentiality needed to carry out the test, especially if they are anxious about going to a hospital or a public test centres.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is one of the widespread diseases that have resulted in high mortality rate in the world.
Since discovery in 1983, about 75m people have been infected globally, with about 32m deaths, according to the World Health Organisation reports.
As at the end of 2018, 21 per cent of the world’s population did not know their status and about 37.9m people were recorded to be living with HIV globally.
Of these, 36.2m were adults, while 1.7m were children.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS reports that about 1.9m people are living with HIV in Nigeria.
As at 2019, results from UNAIDS showed that Nigeria had a 1.4 per cent HIV prevalence, which is considerably an improvement when compared to the previous estimate of 2.8 per cent.
Speaking in Abuja last year, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, noted that fewer people were living with the virus in the country, indicating that Africa’s most populous country made significant progress in the fight against the spread of HIV.
“For the first time, the end of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome as a public health threat by 2030 is truly in sight for our country. I urge us all not to relent but to increase the momentum. Let us work collectively and push for the last mile,” he said.
In the last couple of years, a lot of energy has been channeled into creating awareness about HIV; people are encouraged to go for tests, so their status could be determined much earlier and for Anti-Retro viral Therapy to begin, where applicable.
Organisations, local and international, have established free test centers in every country to facilitate early detection.
However, a significant milestone has just been reached with the introduction of the new test kit.
For the test, no blood is required, Daily Trust findings show.
One only needs to put saliva on the palette and in a matter of minutes, the person’s status becomes visible.
The result of the test is guaranteed, as it is being used in other countries in the world.
It is relatively easy and simple to use and has been designed to be affordable to everyone regardless of social class.