Cape Town – South Africans are encouraged to use self-testing HIV kits that are now available in their local community pharmacies.
Prior to this year's anniversary of World Aids Day on Saturday, health experts say the 99% test is accurate and can be done in the privacy of your home. The test can be done if it is pregnant, breast-feeding and 12 years old.
World AIDS Day will be marked under the theme "Choca Impili – Know Your Status" and invites all South African countries to take responsibility for their health and well-being.
According to the Independent Association for Medical Association (ICPA) Jackie Maimin, South Africa is the largest and most pronounced HIV epidemic in the world, with an estimated 7.2 million people living with HIV last year.
Maimin said HIV testing was essential for expanding therapy and ensuring that all people living with HIV can lead a healthy and productive life.
"Now there are a large number of approved HIV self-examination programs available in pharmacies in South Africa that allow people to experiment with the virus in the privacy of their homes-tests are highly specific for the HIV virus with 99% accuracy and provide a valuable indicator of the presence of antibodies HIV infection, "she said.
Earlier pharmacies in South Africa were forbidden to sell HIV testing kits, but that ban was abolished.
"Self-screening tests work to detect natural antibodies to the body's HIV infection. In addition, self-examination tests are completely safe for use during pregnancy and can be used for up to 12 years.
"Self-observation kits are not intended for people who are already on antiretroviral treatment," Maimin explained.
However, she warned it took six to 12 weeks for the body's immune system to create HIV antibodies.
"As an HIV screening test requires antibodies rather than a real virus, it is possible to get a" false "negative test result during this window period.
"For this reason, it is important that you are regularly tested if you are at high risk of contracting HIV, and if you suspect that you may have been exposed to the virus, to re-test after the recommended 12 weeks."
Expert counseling is also available in pharmacies in local communities to answer any questions, help interpret the results, and help with referrals to appropriate health facilities if needed.