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HIV home test kits now in Kenya

By Nasibo Kabale | Published Fri, May 5th 2017 at 00:00, Updated May 4th 2017 at 22:26 GMT +3

As the HIV and Aids epidemic begins to hit more young people, the Government has rolled out an HIV home testing kit.

The kit, which allows one to self-test in the convenience of their home, has 80 per cent rate of accuracy and targets sexually active, high-risk girls and young women aged 15 to 24.

National Aids Control Council (NACC) Executive Director Nduku Kilonzo said there were many sexually-active students who were reluctant to visit HIV-testing clinics.

Dr Kilonzo, who was speaking during the launch of the kits by the National Aids and STI Control Program (Nascop), and the Ministry of Health, said close to 500,000 people still did not know their HIV status.

She added that the home test kits would lead to reduced HIV cases among teens.

"This will also reduce the economic impact of HIV in the country as more people become aware of their status."

Blood test

Nelly Mugo, a research scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, said the kits target young girls because they are the ones most socially, structurally and biologically susceptible to contracting STIs.

"Young women's bodies are highly susceptible to STIs at this age and this is why we are taking a keen look at the group," she said.

Head of Nascop Martin Sirengo said the kits, which will involve a blood test or swabbing the mouth for oral fluid samples, makes the results available immediately (for the blood test) or after 20 minutes.

"The tests are highly sensitive and have an 80 per cent accuracy rate; that is why if you test positive, you will need a follow-up test," said Dr Sirengo.

He added that the cost of the kits was still high as there were only two such products in the market.

"Since there are only two companies registered at the moment, the kits sell for between Sh700 and Sh800," he said. [Nasibo Kabale]


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