Written by John Kelly, CEO at Atomo Diagnostics:
The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHIVSoc) has recently published it’s clinical guidelines for HIV self-testing to support achieving the first ’90’ of the challenging 90-90-90 target set by UNAIDS; namely to have 90% of people living with HIV know their status by 2020. This is another important milestone for HIV self-testing in Africa, recognising the critical role it has to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
SAHIVSoc is a membership organisation for healthcare professionals that represents more than 3,000 healthcare workers with an interest in HIV. The Society’s mission is to promote evidence-based, quality HIV healthcare in Southern Africa. One of the Society’s many functions is to develop practice guidelines that address aspects of HIV management. These new guidelines from the Society will help to inform decisions taken by national Departments of Health in the region on matters relating to HIV self-testing.
I have been discussing the Society’s guidelines with our General Manager in South Africa, Sue Wilson. She is keen to stress that they are an important step forward in facilitating greater access to HIV self-testing for at risk and key population groups.
International research studies have shown that HIV self-testing is an effective tool for accessing previously hard-to-reach and high burden populations; including MSM, injecting drug users and female sex works. Self-testing has also been shown to have a high degree of acceptance and take-up amongst the young, which could be central to stemming the alarming trends in infection rates amongst adolescent girls.
As a manufacturer that specialises in the design of easy-to-use self-test products that deliver accurate results, we welcome these guidelines and the support to provide to Africa’s HIV prevention programmes. We also support the Society’s evidence-based approach and commitment to ensuring quality.
Atomo’s affordable, all-in-one HIV self test is the result of extensive research and multiple evaluations with lay users in South Africa, Kenya and Australia; such evaluations having involved key partners, including the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.
In South Africa the test is commercialised by our valued partner Iyeza Health. Branded as I-test HIV Self Test, it is available now online – www.hivselftesting.co.za – and from specialist retail pharmacies.