GENEVA, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The world must move beyond HIV conventional testing and invest in strategies such as self-testing that are showing special potential for reaching into groups where HIV risk is high, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unitaid said in a latest report on Thursday.
The report, the fourth edition of the Unitaid-WHO market and technology landscape for HIV self-testing, calls for bumping up support worldwide to HIV self-testing knits and market, to meet the UNAIDS target of making 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status by 2020.
It shows that more and more countries introduced self-testing, and more self-testing products became available. Countries with HIV self-testing policies numbered 59 in 2018, up from six in 2015, and 28 countries were implementing self-testing in 2018, almost doubling from 2017.
According to Unitaid, a global health initiative to end the world's tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria and hepatitis C epidemics, self-test kits are showing special potential for reaching into groups where HIV risk is high but HIV testing has been low. Self-testing can be done in private, requires no special training, and serves as a entry point to HIV care and prevention.
An estimated 9.4 million people remained undiagnosed globally in 2017, many of whom belong to groups at high risk of contracting HIV, such as female sex workers, prisoners and men who have sex with men, as well as partners of people with HIV and young people in southern Africa.
The report forecasts that 16.4 million HIV self-tests will be procured globally in 2020, a significant increase from just one million self-tests in 2017, while public sector procurement will contribute 9.1 million self-tests in 2020.
The forecast shows growth in both public and private sectors. Beyond 2019, these increases are expected to be largely driven by low-, middle- and upper-middle-income countries implementing and scaling up HIV self-testing.
Although the market outlook for HIV self-testing is good, the report recommends six priority areas for action by all stakeholders, including raising awareness of self-testing, and increasing demand for it.