By Abujah Racheal
Abuja – The Federal Ministry of Health on Monday approved the conduct of laboratory evaluation of insti HIV 1/2, and insti Multiplex Dual HIV 1/2, both HIV test kits, and Syphilis antibody rapid test kits.
The National Coordinator, National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Hepatitis Control Programme (NASCP) Dr Araoye Segilola, said this at the dissemination of the antibody rapid test kits in Abuja.
According to him, the result of the evaluation shows that insti HIV 1/2 has specificity and sensitivity of 99.7 per cent.
Segilola, said that Insti multiplex HIV 1/2 syphilis antibody on its part had sensitivity and specificity of 100 per cent.
He said that the test kit was therefore, recommended as a first line kit in the National HIV testing algorithm.
He said that Nigeria did an evaluation of HIV rapid test kits using the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and got appropriate evaluation of HIV Testing Techniques in Africa, where three phases of evaluation were recommended.
“These phases are: phase, I Labotary based, phase II, Field based and phase III, continuous monitoring of the algorithm performance.
“National HIV testing algorithms were developed from these rounds of evaluation conducted and all the test kits are antibody based kits,” he said.
He disclosed that more than 1.9 million Nigerians were infected with HIV with about 1.1 million on Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART).
He noted that in order to meet the target for the first 90, Nigeria must have at least 1. 71 million people who know their status.
“Which means we need to test and identify up to 600, 000 HIV positive persons by Dec. 2020, 16 months from now.
“Obviously, the need for appropriate laboratory diagnostics and laboratory support for clinical decision and monitoring the effectiveness and safety of the regimens remain very important,’’ he stressed.
He noted that in Nigeria, like in many countries, detection of specific antibodies in the blood or other body fluids was the main method and standard procedure for diagnosing HIV infection.
“At one time in this country, several uncontrolled HIV test kits, especially rapid test kits, were used without any regard to quality or following any appropriate testing strategy, which increased the possibility of misdiagnosis of HIV infection,” he said.
Segilola said the Federal Government considered these practices unacceptable and thus embarked on appropriate evaluation of HIV through rapid test kits.
Earlier in his remarks, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Dr Sani Aliyu, said that HIV testing was often undermined by lack of confidentiality, stigma, shortage of counselors and proximity to testing centers.
Aliyu, who was represented by Dr Daniel Ndukwe, his Special Adviser on National Development Division of the Agency, said the test kits had the potential to circumvent these constraints.
He said the agency would continue to advocate ending mother to child transmission of HIV in Nigeria.
Aliyu said that the agency would also continue to mobilise government commitment at the highest level and champion the inclusion of services for the benefit of women and children.
Earlier, in her keynote address, Dr Deborah Odoh, the Deputy Director Treatment, Care and Support, said that HIV testing was the fulcrum of any HIV programme as it established the individual’s status.
Odoh, who was also represented by the Head of Prevention, Dr Akpan Nsebong, said the status would determine the subsequent package of prevention or treatment services that would benefit an individual.
“A person who tests negative is counseled on how to stay negative, while a person that tests positive is immediately linked to ART services.
`So the importance of providing accurate and reliable diagnosis, devoid of false negatives or false positive results, cannot be overemphasized,” Odoh said.
She noted that Nigeria had achieved so much in the fight against HIV/AIDs as the rate of infection with the virus had dropped drastically.
Odoh noted that the NASCP would continue on the right track to achieve the 2020 mandate for zero HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
She, however, called on Nigerians to come together and support government in the fight against the scourge.