20 August, 2015 17:36

Rwanda: MOH Turns to New Method to Increase Voluntary HIV Testing

The Ministry of Health has expressed optimism that the new “finger prick” HIV/AIDS testing method would encourage more people to seek voluntary counseling and testing services as part of efforts to prevent new infections.

The new method was launched during the recently concluded expo in Gikondo, Kigali.

Speaking to The New Times last week, the director of HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr Placidie Mugwaneza, said the new method is free, simple, and less painful.

It produces results in a very short time unlike the former methods, where blood samples were collected, taken to the laboratory and people would wait for a while before they could get their results, according to Mugwaneza.

“This method reduces on the waiting time and reduces anxiety,” she added.

In the new method, a finger is pricked to obtain a blood sample that is smeared on one end of a testing device pad.

A drop of buffer solution is then applied onto blood and the person waits for 15 minutes maximum before they can get their results.

Two faint reddish lines appear in the middle of the testing device pad if a person is positive. However, if a person is negative, one line appears.

 “The person witnesses the process of testing so they won’t doubt their results,” Dr Mugwaneza explained.

Innocent Nsabyimana, one of the people who were tested at the recent expo, said the new method is better and convenient since one does not have to wait for long before getting the results.

“I was happy to get my results in the shortest time possible without stressful days of waiting and anxiety,” he said.

With the new method, it is also possible for a client to be both tested and counseled by the same medical practitioner.

Revocata Uwimana, one of the nurses who carried out the testing work at the 2015 expo, said many youths benefitted from pre-test counseling.

“They got to know the reality of HIV/AIDS and took measures to protect their lives,”

A total of 1,039 people were tested during the expo. Of these, 1,028 were found negative while only 11 tested positive.

According to Mugwaneza, the expo was a good ground for the ministry’s strategy of reaching out to many people.

The rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in Rwanda stands at 3 per cent.

Among males, it is 2.1 per cent and, among females, it is 3.5 per cent, according to latest study carried out by RBC.

 Other strategies to fight against the spread of HIV, besides voluntary testing, include male circumcision, which reduces the spread of the disease by 60 per cent; giving out free condoms; and Prevention of Mother to Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT).

By: Hudson Kuteesa

The New Times

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