LAGOS – Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, through the National AIDS and STDs Control Programme, (NASCP) has confirmed the efficiency of a new HIV self-test kit for use in Nigeria after recognising its ability to identify and detect HIV antibodies with a 98.4 per cent specificity and sensitivity.
NASCP was instituted to complement efforts by the ministry of health towards the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Organiser of NASCP, Dr. Godwin Emmanuel, in a recent statement gave a report on the OraQuick HIV self-test launch. According to him, the new HIV self-test kit known as OraQuick is certified by WHO, the United States Food and Drug Administration and Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. He noted that the kit was being used in over 50 countries.
His words, “As part of measures to promote HIV self-testing by the ministry, OraQuick HIV self-test kit was recently evaluated by the Federal Ministry of Health across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. This is in line with national guidelines to assess the efficacy of the test kits for use in Nigeria. The evaluation showed 98.4 per cent specificity and sensitivity to detect HIV antibodies I and II among Nigerians.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is one of the widespread diseases that have resulted in high mortality rate in the world. Since discovery in 1983, about 75m people have been infected globally, with about 32m deaths, according to the World Health Organisation reports.
As at the end of 2018, 21 per cent of the world’s population did not know their status and about 37.9m people were recorded to be living with HIV globally. Of these, 36.2m were adults, while 1.7m were children.
Presently, HIV has become one of the most challenging public health issues in the world before the novel coronavirus.
WHO reports that a larger percentage of infected people are found in Africa, with nearly one in every 25 adults (3.9 per cent) living with HIV and accounting for more than two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide. However, reports show that a vast majority of HIV patients are located in low and middle income countries with an estimated 68 per cent living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS reports that about 1.9m people are living with HIV in Nigeria. Sadly, Nigeria happens to be the second country in the world to record the highest number of the epidemic. As at 2019, results from UNAIDS showed that Nigeria had a 1.4 per cent HIV prevalence.
Speaking in Abuja last year, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari noted that fewer people were living with the virus in the country, indicating that Africa’s most populous country made significant progress in the fight against the spread of HIV.
While HIV drugs are made relatively affordable to encourage early treatment and reduce mortality rate, the reality is that before treatment can commence, screening is essential.
HIV screening is therefore a gateway to prevention, treatment, care and support services. With the prevalence of the HIV and the efforts being made to curb the spread as well as treat infected patients, greater percentage of the Nigerian population are still ignorant of their status. Efforts are still being geared towards the availability of recommended test centres and counselling sites.