HIV Self-Test Kits Are Met With Apprehension in Kenya

HIV Self-Test Kits Are Met With Apprehension in Kenya

The Kenyan Ministry of Health has approved two types of HIV self-testing kits to be released in the country. The kits—one being an oral swab method, and the other a finger-prick blood test—will be sold in select pharmacies in Kenya for 700-900 shillings (about $7 or $8). The Kenyan government is working to make the test free at many facilities by next month.

While this may seem like good news in a country where HIV rates are high yet many do not know their status, some Kenyans have expressed reservations and concern over the idea of testing one’s self for HIV.

“What about counseling for those who unexpectedly find out that they are, unfortunately, positive? Are we not facing possible suicides, depression and other psychological issues?” wrote one Kenyan on their Facebook page. “Will this not embolden rapists now that they can test their victims before the act? This is also likely to encourage sexual immorality! It should not be allowed!”

But Dr. Martin Sirengo, who is the head of Kenya’s National AIDS and STI Control Program, says these fears are largely unfounded and that the importance of people knowing their status is key to prevention and care. “Pilot studies show that many people would like to do the test. In fact, some complain that voluntary counseling and testing center staff take too much time counseling people than in conducting the test, yet they just want to know their status,” Sirengo told Daily Nation.

In addition to enabling people who are positive to get on antiretroviral treatment sooner, Sirengo said the self-testing kits would help increase social awareness on HIV and would be helpful especially for young people — especially girls, who often fear going to get tested at a health facility because of stigma.

The tests have about an 80% accuracy rate and are actually used as a pre-screening test for HIV. A follow-up test by a professional healthcare professional is required for an official diagnosis.

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13 Comments

  1. Francis
    May 12, 05:07 Reply

    They will always find something negative to say about it sha even if it may sound far fetched and retarded.

    • Bryce
      May 12, 05:32 Reply

      You’re up early Francis.

      The concern about counseling/depression/suicides is valid though,and should be looked into

      • Francis
        May 12, 05:48 Reply

        Woke up and decided to do my weekend laundry and downloads now instead of tomorrow morning.

        The counseling/suicide part is valid but I refuse to believe that such kits come without a warning not to proceed without proper counseling. Cigar dey carry cancer warnings yet peeps still dey smoke am dey go.

        In my opinion there’s a difference between someone actively seeking to run a HIV test on his own compared to someone that walks into the hospital and is asked to do so after evaluation. One don already prepare for the worse in some way though he still needs the counseling sha.

        • Bryce
          May 12, 07:08 Reply

          Valid point you make too.

          OAN,what happened to that guy that spins such yarn every Wednesday,admin?.
          I just realized I haven’t read anything from him in weeks.
          He does tell interesting tales.
          Did he get married or become Hindu?

  2. Delle
    May 12, 07:25 Reply

    I think it’s a welcome development. Personally, I am not all about the counseling (I think I have gotten enough to last a lifetime…lol).

    When you check your status, go to google and get counseled. Shikena!

    • Francis
      May 12, 07:32 Reply

      LOL. Google no dey work for every man na. Besides with HIV na wetin person siddon tell you face to face first you go believe pass wetin you see online as that one sef go leave you mega confused if you’re not careful

  3. ambivalentone
    May 12, 07:42 Reply

    The immorality argument is valid too. They’d need SERIOUS warnings to ensure they and their partners have tested negative twice within 3months or its WELCOME, AIDS EPIDEMIC

    • Francis
      May 12, 07:45 Reply

      I wonder if these issues were raised in the abroad and how they were tackled.

  4. Mitch
    May 12, 10:22 Reply

    “Will this not embolden rapists now that they can test their victims before the act? This is also likely to encourage sexual immorality! It should not be allowed!”

    Whoever said this needs to be flogged. The level of backwardness in his/her reasoning is appalling to say the least. So HIV testing now encourages rape and sexual ‘immorality’.
    Wawuu Wawuu!

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