Cape Town – South Africans have been asked to use HIV self-testing kits, which are now available at their local pharmacies.
Before this year's World AIDS Day on Saturday, health experts say the test is 99% reliable and can be done in the privacy of your home. The test can be performed during pregnancy, breastfeeding and from the age of 12 years.
World Aid Day will be celebrated under the theme “Chka Impilo – Know Your Status” and calls on all South Africans to take responsibility for their health and health.
According to Jackie Maimina, executive director of the Independent Pharmaceutical Association (ICPA), South Africa has the largest and loudest HIV epidemic in the world, last year, an estimated 7.2 million people were living with HIV.
Maymin said that HIV testing is essential to expand treatment and ensure that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives.
“Currently, pharmacies in South Africa have a number of approved HIV self-screening kits that allow people to monitor the virus in the privacy of their own homes – the tests are very specific for the HIV virus with an accuracy of 99% and provide a valuable indicator of the presence of antibodies to HIV infection” , – she said.
Previously, South African pharmacies were not allowed to sell HIV test kits, but this ban was lifted.
“Self-diagnostic tests work by detecting the body's natural antibodies to HIV infection. In addition, self-diagnostic tests are completely safe for use during pregnancy and can be used from the age of 12 years.
“Self-tuning kits are not intended for use by people who are already undergoing antiretroviral therapy,” Meimin explained.
However, she warned that it took 6 to 12 weeks for the body's immune system to generate antibodies to the HIV virus.
“Since the HIV self-test is looking for antibodies, not the actual virus, a“ false ”negative test result can be obtained during this window period.
"For this reason, it is important to test regularly if you are at high risk of getting HIV, and if you suspect that you may have been exposed to the virus, repeat the test after the recommended 12 weeks."
Professional counseling is also available at local pharmacies to answer any questions, assist in interpreting the results and, if necessary, contact the appropriate medical institutions.