Govt urged to expand HIV testing services

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THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged governments to strategically expand their HIV testing services in order to achieve the United Nations’ 90-90-90 goals.

Phyllis Mbanje

This comes amid reports that only 51% of people living with HIV knew their health status.

In Zimbabwe, only 50% of the population know their status against government’s target of 85%.

In its latest guidelines on HIV testing services, WHO noted that 48 national testing policies, which is less than 20% of national HIV testing policies, included the recommended testing strategies.

The new guidelines include use of rapid diagnostic tests, independently conducting safe and effective HIV testing services by lay providers.

A lay provider, according to WHO, is any person who performs functions related to health-care delivery and has been trained to deliver specific services, but has received no formal professional or paraprofessional certificate or tertiary education degree.

Trained lay providers working in the community may help to increase access to these services and their acceptability to people from key populations and other priority groups.

“Lay provider delivered HIV testing services can be used in settings where there are barriers to introducing or scaling-up community-based HIV testing services,” the WHO guidelines explained.

Last year, the Health and Child Care ministry launched a new revised national guideline for HIV testing and counselling with special emphasis on couples, children and adolescents.

Previously, testing and counseling was mainly targeting the sick and blood donors.