Written by: Tikhala Itaye, President of the Eastern and Southern African region of AfriYAN, co-founder of Her Liberty Namibia, Executive producer of “Don’t kiss and Tell”, a TV drama series on HIV and GBV among young people, and Regional Think Tank Social Justice member. Tikhala is a 26-year-old young woman, born Malawian and residing in Namibia.
There has been an ongoing debate related to HIV self-testing kits in the region – are they problematic or part of the solution in Eastern and
Southern Africa? These self-testing kits – described as being simple, discreet, reliable for young people – aim to encourage and increase HIV testing by surpassing some of the common barriers that are faced by local clinics and other health care facilities.
As a young person myself, I believe that the HIV self-testing kits are a valuable add-on to already existing health service provision, providing another choice and alternative. In our region especially, we are seeing many young people who are still not aware of their HIV status, making them unknowingly responsible for onward transmissions and risking their chances of not being diagnosed early on. However, as innovative and effective as this new model sounds, I still have my concerns:
- I am so concerned that we are losing the importance of face-to-face HIV counseling. Receiving pre and post-HIV counseling has been said to play a critical role in how young people react to their HIV status. With HIV self-testing kits, this could be an issue. Many young people believe that this individualistic model may increase the number of suicides upon unexpectedly finding out they are HIV positive.
- The age of consent of persons que es sildenafil citrate allowed to access the self-testing kits raise concerns. Will this be in accordance with the age of consent to HIV testing and access to sexual reproductive health services?
- There are many logistics involved in the HIV self-testing kits. How do you effectively track the statistical collection of data on the HIV prevalence rate if individuals test?
This only reiterates that no matter what you believe when it relates to HIV self-testing kits, it is crucial that young
people remain engaged in the consultative process. This will not only help to better understand how it may be rolled out effectively but can provide alternative and localized solutions that make the most impact for all youth.