The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said they were going to push for community-based HIV testing in an effort to end the AIDS epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region.
WHO, UNAIDS push for community-based testing in efforts to eradicate the epidemic
They however agreed that the benefits were only likely to occur if individuals knew their status and started treatment early.
In a joint statement, on Monday in Manila, WHO and UNAIDS said research had long shown that anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines reduced AIDS-related deaths and prevented HIV transmission.
They also noted that 10 national HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infection (STI) programmes, civil society and development partners in the region had joined forces to ensure that everyone living with HIV, knew his or her status and could access HIV treatment.
They further said that hospitals, clinics and other health facilities needed to offer more voluntary HIV testing and counseling during routine check-ups, including antenatal visits.
The organisations insisted that voluntary testing of intimate partners of people living with HIV should also be included.
"Community-based testing models include having one rapid HIV screening test done by a peer supporter in a familiar environment. If the initial test result is positive, a follow up confirmatory test in a health facility is needed,’’ they said
Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for Western Pacific, said early HIV diagnosis through different HIV testing approaches had become an important strategy for HIV prevention and control in the 21st century.
He said people diagnosed with HIV should be linked to care and start treatment as early as possible, to harness the benefits of antiretroviral treatment.
Young-soo noted that across the region, knowledge about HIV testing and counseling among key populations was very low. He said the key populations were at higher risk for HIV.
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