Health Ministry launches new HIV self-test kit

In a significant move to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Ministry of Health has introduced a self-testing kit. To enhance accessibility and awareness, this innovative kit is poised to transform HIV/AIDS testing nationwide.

Developed through collaboration between the Ugandan government and medical device company Abbott, the CheckNOW HIV Self-Test offers a swift, on-the-spot examination for both HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies. Tested for efficacy by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), the kit has shown promising results during recent pilot testing at seven universities in Uganda.

The CheckNOW kit enables individuals to discreetly ascertain their HIV status at home, eliminating concerns about potential prejudice or bias. With results available in just 15-20 minutes, the kit offers a rapid testing alternative compared to traditional methods, with reduced risk of inaccuracies.

Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director General Health Services at the Ministry of Health, highlighted the importance of providing a confidential and empowering testing environment for populations, such as adolescents and key demographics, who may be hesitant to utilize traditional testing services.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, emphasized the trial phase’s positive outcomes in terms of acceptability and utilization of the kits. She noted that the kit will help bridge gaps in HIV testing and provide a straightforward, confidential option for managing one’s health.

The CheckNOW kit will be available free of charge at health centers nationwide. Distribution will expand to 146 districts, prioritizing vulnerable populations.

Uganda has made significant progress in HIV prevention and control despite numerous challenges. Currently, 1.4 million Ugandans live with HIV/AIDS, with a prevalence of 5.1%. While Uganda has met key targets in HIV awareness and treatment, it ranks fifth globally in HIV burden.