New guidelines can help diagnosis

National

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has released new guidelines on HIV self-testing to improve access to and uptake of HIV diagnosis.
According to a new WHO progress report, lack of a HIV diagnosis is a major obstacle to implementing the organisation’s recommendation that everyone with HIV should be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The report reveals that more than 18 million people with HIV are currently taking ART, and a similar number is still unable to access treatment, the majority of which are unaware of their HIV positive status.
Today, 40 percent of all people with HIV (over 14 million) remain unaware of their status.
Many of these people are at higher risk of HIV infection who often find it difficult to access existing testing services.
WHO Director-General Doctor Margaret Chan said that millions of people with HIV were still missing out on life-saving treatment which could also prevent HIV transmission to others.
Chan said HIV self-testing should open the door for many more people to know their HIV status and find out how to get treatment and access prevention services.
HIV self-testing means people can use oral fluid or blood-finger-pricks to discover their status in a private and convenient setting and results are ready within 20 minutes or less.
Those with positive results are advised to seek confirmatory tests at health clinics.
WHO recommends they receive information and links to counseling as well as rapid referral to prevention, treatment and care services.
HIV self-testing is a way to reach more people with undiagnosed HIV and represents a step forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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