Sunday February 23, 2020

World Aids Day : World Health Organization (WHO) Issues New Guidelines on HIV Self-Testing

This year, World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on HIV self-testing

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Representational image. (Twitter)

December 1, 2016: For nearly three decades every December 1 is observed as World Aids Day. AIDS has killed 35 million people since the start of the pandemic. It has left millions of  the orphans in its wake. Every year, 2 million people acquire the virus, and the U.N. estimates that more than 1 million people die from the virus annually.

Taboos related to sex and AIDS is so deep rooted that often people shy away even testing HIV. So this year, World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on HIV self-testing.

• According to the latest WHO progress report, “lack of an HIV diagnosis is a major obstacle to implementing the Organization’s recommendation that everyone with HIV should be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART).”

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• “Millions of people with HIV are still missing out on life-saving treatment, which can also prevent HIV transmission to others,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in the release.

• The easy self-testing kit will give the results in just “20 minutes”.

• The WHO report says, “HIV self-testing means people can use oral fluid or blood- finger-pricks to discover their status in a private and convenient setting.”

• The basic care facility and counseling centers to help the patients is already ensured by the UN. Not only that, they would also help the patients to fight against the social stigma which is attached to it.

• The report also focuses on how testing is low among people who are involved in the same-sex relationships, sex workers, transgender, drug addicts and prisoners.

• WHO’s self-testing kits are provided by for free. It also supports other measures that would help people get other such kits at low prices.

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• The release highlights, “HIV self-testing is a way to reach more people with undiagnosed HIV and represents a step forward to empower individuals, diagnose people earlier before they become sick, bring services closer to where people live, and create demand for HIV testing. This is particularly important for those people facing barriers to accessing existing services.”

• WHO hopes that this will have a positive impact and it will be helping those is affected. The organization also urged all the nations to come together and fight, in order to end it by 2030.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram with inputs from various agencies. Twitter: @PinazKazi

Next Story

Here’s why HIV Vaccine Trials Failed in South Africa

HIV vaccine trials are halted in South Africa due to failure

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The latest trial of a vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been halted as results show it is not working. Pixabay

By Eunjung Cho

The latest trial of a health vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been halted as results show it is not working.

The Maryland-based U.S. National Institutes of Health announced Monday it has stopped the HVTN 702 study in South Africa, following a recommendation of an independent data and safety monitoring board.

The study, also called Uhambo — meaning travel or a journey in Zulu — enrolled 5,407 HIV-negative volunteers at 14 sites across South Africa beginning in 2016. Participants were sexually active men and women between the ages of 18 and 35, who were randomly assigned to receive six injections of either the investigational vaccine regimen or a placebo.

HIV Vaccine Fails
Pharmacist Mary Chindanyika looks at documents on a fridge containing a trial vaccine against HIV on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. VOA

Over a period of 18 months, enough time for the vaccine regimen to stimulate an immune response, there were 129 HIV infections among the vaccine recipients and 123 HIV infections among the placebo recipients. The findings showed there wasn’t significant evidence that vaccination either decreased or increased infection rates.

The trial in South Africa was based on an earlier trial in Thailand, the RV144 clinical trial, the only vaccine that has ever shown any degree of success in protection from HIV. Scientists say they will continue to study the results of the HVTN 702 trial, to find out why the vaccine that had modest efficacy in Thailand didn’t work in South Africa. Researchers said there were no safety concerns about the vaccine itself.

Experts have voiced disappointment in the decision to stop the vaccine trial in South Africa.

“Whilst this is a significant setback for the field, we need to continue the quest for a preventive vaccine. The rates of HIV infection, which continue unabated in this region, should spur greater urgency, global attention and investment to the quest,” said Linda-Gail Bekker, past president of the International AIDS Society and chair of the Enterprise Advisory Group.

“An HIV vaccine is essential to end the global pandemic, and we hoped this vaccine candidate would work. Regrettably, it does not,” said Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the NIH.

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South Africa has one of the world’s highest HIV rates. According to UNAIDS, more than 20 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 49 were HIV-positive in 2018.

Multiple HIV vaccines have been tested since the 1990s. (VOA)