Malawi villagers embrace HIV self-testing

27 September 2016 – Malawi has one of the highest HIV rates, with an estimated 1 in 10 people living with HIV. Most of those people living with HIV remain unaware of their status. According to the Malawi Ministry of Health, only 1 in 3 Malawians were tested for HIV in 2015. With a large part of the population still unaware of their HIV infection, efforts to prevent new infections and further transmission of HIV are under-utilized and continue to undermine the country's achievements in curbing new infections and deaths.

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WHO has been a strong leader in this field, and plans to issue a new guidance on HIV self-testing on World AIDS Day 2016. Sixteen countries, including Malawi, are already pushing ahead by adopting official policies and plans to offer HIV self-testing as part of their comprehensive HIV services.

HIV self-testing has the potential to jump-start the scale-up of HIV testing, a necessary development to reach the global target of 90% coverage by 2020. It will, however, require a global push to achieve the right mix: policies, implementation models and funding. With a strong global approach, HIV self-testing could become a reality for all, including villagers in Chifunga.