Globally, there are about 36.7 million people infected with HIV with 5000 new infections occurring every day. Of this number, 1.6 million infected people live in Kenya with 106 000 new infections every year; based on statistics as at 2016.
HIV self-test (HIVST) kits were launched in Kenya in May 2017. They can be purchased across the country in different pharmacies, with the different locations specified here, and used at your own convenience. The kits are part of the United Nation’s 90-90-90 targets, to get 90% of all HIV infected people to know their status by 2020. This is especially for people who lack access to HIV testing centres or may face fear and stigma for various reasons.
As there is still no HIV cure, early diagnosis is essential to prevent further damage to your immune system and for treatment to be effective.There is a need to get infected people on antiretrovirals therapy (ART) to prolong life and reduce the number of new infections.
At the moment, there are three types of kits approved for use in the country: the Oraquick kit requires your saliva sample while the Insti and Atomo kits use blood samples. These one-time use kits contain easy to follow instructions but you can seek help from a healthcare provider if you are unsure of how to use them. This page contains instructions in both English and Swahili for all three kits.
You are strongly advised to visit a health facility if you have a positive self-test result and to retest again after three months if you feel you may have been exposed to infection. The same applies to people who are at constant risk of infection. People currently on ART may have a false negative if they use the self-test kit.
A gentle reminder that you can live a fulfilling life even after a positive HIV diagnosis like millions of others out there, thanks to modern medicine. So get testing!!
*Data from UN AIDS and NASCOP
Image: CGTN Africa