by Walter Nyamukondiwa| The Herald
ZIMBABWE will soon start piloting the self-testing of HIV by individuals at home in a development that is set to revolutionise the national response to HIV and AIDS.
This offers other avenues for reaching around 80 percent of people who do not know their status.
Speaking to journalists at a media workshop for sub-editors here yesterday, director of AIDS and TB unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Owen Mugurungi said the possibility of using that method was being seriously considered.
“We are trying to pilot self testing but there are a lot of issues that need to be cleared first.
“Other mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that people get counselling because in the absence of that, the programme will be disastrous,” he said.
The development, he said would need to be complemented by other services such as toll free and online counselling so that people understand the issues involved before testing themselves.
He said in the absence of counselling some people had committed suicide after finding that they were HIV positive.
This comes in the wake of revelation that more women (57 percent) than men (36 percent) in 2009 were taking up testing and counselling.
Dr. Mugurungi pointed out that the number of people going for voluntary counselling and testing was progressively declining with last year’s figures showing that 21 percent of men sought the service against 34 percent for women.
He said reasons why people shunned testing need to be interrogated.
Dr. Mugurungi said despite decentralisation of testing and counselling around the country people were still reluctant with the fear of the unknown being one of the main reasons.
HIV positive parents have gone on to infect their unborn babies because several women do not go early for antenatal care for interventions that could prevent mother-to-child transmission.
A paediatric expert Dr. Thembinkosi Ncomanzi said it was important to scale up access of antiretroviral treatment for children.