2,000 HIV/Aids test kits to be handed out for free
Thailand plans to offer 2,000 free HIV/Aids test kits to vulnerable groups in a bid to meet its ambitious goal to reduce the infection rate in the country by 90% by 2030.
The kits are dubbed the “HIV Self-Test” (HIVST), which is part of a project conducted by the Department of Disease Control (DDC) under the Ministry of Public Health. The DDC is studying access to HIV/Aids treatment for patients in Thailand.
The scheme is part of the national strategy to eradicate HIV/Aids from 2017 to 2030.
“Quick access to medical treatment is the best way to control the disease and limit the number of deaths and disease transmissions,” Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the DDC, said. “Yet one of the hurdles is that the testing is limited to the laboratory.”
“HIVST increases the possibility that at-risk groups will check whether they’ve contracted the disease,” Dr Suwannachai added.
Under the pilot project, 2,000 HIVST test kits are to be delivered for free to people registered with the DDC. Eligible persons can receive the test kit at 36 Boots pharmacy branches in Bangkok.
The project also aims to make the test kits commercially available.
Sample group testings will only happen in the capital because 44% of patients are in Bangkok, according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).
The test kits are developed by the Health Ministry and now await approval from Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We hope that it will be used in the country shortly,” Dr Suwannachai said. “We are only waiting for the FDA’s green light.”
With HIVST, tests are done by collecting bodily fluid. With its testing tool, the result can be read within 20 minutes. If the test is positive, the user is expected to be tested again at a hospital.
According to the BMA’s Department of Health, there were 77,558 people living with HIV/Aids as of last year, with 1,190 new cases.