MoHSS priotitises HIV self-testing

26 Nov 2018 17:10pm
WINDHOEK, 26 NOV (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) and its partners are currently gauging the effectiveness of new client-friendly methods to reach people who are reluctant to visit public health facilities for fear of stigmatisation.
One such method is the use of HIV self-testing kits for individuals in the comfort of their homes, a media statement issued by the United States (US) Embassy here on Monday stated.
“The updated national guidelines on HIV testing services include the use of HIV self-test kits and the MoHSS is currently considering how best to use this method to reach the people who are most in need and most likely to miss out from routine traditional HIV testing services,” the statement noted.
An HIV self-testing outreach campaign was recently conducted at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region to support this initiative.
The campaign is being led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in support of the MoHSS.
Addressing the community members who were present during the outreach campaign, US Ambassador Lisa Johnson said Namibia has made great progress in HIV/Aids mitigation, but there should be no complacency.
“Closing the testing gap and diagnosing 95 per cent of all people with HIV by 2020 is critical to controlling the epidemic in Namibia,” she said.
The campaign forms part of USAID’s ‘Strengthening HIV Prevention for Key Populations in Namibia Project’ valued at 5 U.S.dollars million (approx. N.dollars 70 million).
It is implemented by the Society for Family Health in seven health districts.
One of the programme’s priorities, according to the statement, is to ensure an environment that provides priority and key populations convenient, non-discriminatory access to healthcare, and to prevent HIV infection.
To date, over 5 560 self-test kits have been used by individuals from priority and key populations through PEPFAR’s support countrywide, of which 760 were used in the Zambezi Region, the report adds.