An estimated seven million people in South Africa are infected with HIV, and around 1,7 million are unaware that they are living with the disease. Various studies indicate the fear of stigma and discrimination as a persistent barrier in voluntary testing.
Mohammad Majam of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute said on Monday for this to change, the country needed to take crucial steps in normalising HIV testing.
Majam told HuffPost SA: "As a country, we have continued to make small incremental changes to our HIV testing statistics each year. However if we are really going to address the testing gap that exists, we need to embrace new innovations."
And this is what BioSure, South Africa's first legally approved HIV self test hopes to address. The product was first launched in the United Kingdom in 2016. Majam, who was part of the team that evaluated BioSure, called it a "disruptive innovation" with the ability to cause a massive shift in testing numbers.
"Young women, sex workers, prisoners and anyone afraid of standing in a queue for fear of discrimination will now have the option of testing privately," he said.
We have summed up the top 5 things to know about the self-test kit:
- It's the world's first blood-based HIV self test to gain the CE quality assurance mark;
- It is as easy as a home pregnancy test, providing results in 15 minutes;
- It is 99,7 percent accurate;
- It can be bought at any Dischem store, online or via medical savings;
- Life Line, Love Life and the National Aids Helpline offer around-the-clock counselling for self-testers.