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Rwanda rolls out self-testing HIV kit

Rwanda rolls out self-testing HIV kit

Rwanda

A self HIV-testing kit is now on sale in Rwanda and many queued to purchase the device.

The OraQuick single-use device allows the user to know his or her HIV status in 20 minutes. Unlike the blood test, this can be used at home.

‘‘It is a way to ensure that people have access to HIV testing, and knowing that HIV testing is an entry point for HIV prevention in general and an entry point for long-term HIV care and treatment. It is therefore important to ensure that testing is accessible and that people know their HIV status so that they can adopt appropriate strategies based on their HIV status “, said Dr. Placidie Mugwaneza at Rwanda’s health ministry, HIV/AIDS division.

It is therefore important to ensure that testing is accessible and that people know their HIV status so that they can adopt appropriate strategies based on their HIV status.

The self-test system does not require any expertise. The system looks for traces of the virus in saliva and not in blood. Health offcials say it is 99.7% accurate.

The kit currently costs $5 in pharmacies in Rwanda. This price is considered too high in a country where more than 60% of the population live below the poverty line.

Dr. Sabin Nzanzimana is Director of the HIV/AIDS division at Rwanda’s health ministry.

“If factory tests are available at $2 for public programs and $4 for private ones, for me, depending on who needs them, it’s always a major hurdle to overcome”, he said.

Authorities express their willingness to work with stakeholders to reduce the cost of the self-test.

Saturday, December 1 is world aids day and to mark the day, Rwanda’s health ministry has been holding a campaign to distribute free OraQuick kits nationwide to raise awareness.

“Rwandans are generally afraid to be tested, they are afraid to go to the hospital, but I really like this kit because you can test yourself and know your status. It will even give people the courage to go to the hospital to find out more’‘, said beneficiary, Honoline Umuhire.

Some have criticized the self-tests kits, saying those receiving a positive diagnosis at home would not have access to the same counseling and support offered in clinics.

Reuters

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