South Sudan Adopts Self-Testing to Reduce Spread of HIV/AIDS

South Sudan has introduced self-testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) kits to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDs.

UNAIDS stated that HIV self-testing would enable people to find out their status at a place and time of their choice.

While addressing the media during the launch of National guidelines for sexually transmitted infections and HIV self-testing for HIV yesterday, Director of HIV/AIDS and STIs at the ministry of health, Harriet Akello Pasquale stated that they had to embrace the tactic because it is easy, quick, and private, and that people may be encouraged to take a test earlier than they would if they had to visit a health facility, potentially bringing an earlier diagnosis.

Director of HIV/AIDS and STIs at the ministry of health, Harriet Akello Pasquale

Akello revealed that they are doing a lot of community engagement and awareness programmes to boost the fight against the disease.

“The data shows that the current prevalence stands at 2.1 per cent, but the highest prevalence is reported in Western Equatoria and areas like the Lakes States,’’ she added.

As part of the campaign, the government is making HIV self-test kits available for free, starting with Juba and the wider Central Equatorial State.

“We plan to make testing kits available at a number of health facilities so that people can access them free of charge,’’ she disclosed. “10,000 tests to be used in Juba and using the lessons learnt from this implementation to scale up HIV self-testing,’’ she added.

HIV prevalence in South Sudan stands at 2.1 per cent. Many people living with HIV are aware of their status because some of them either live far away from clinics or they are hesitant to seek testing due to the stigma associated with HIV.

According to Akello, HIV self-testing kits have the potential to change the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by increasing the number of people who know their HIV status.

The minister of health, Yolanda Awel Deng, emphasised the need for screening and intervention for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS), Hepatitis B and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially for pregnant women.

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