For the diagnosis of HIV, the self-test is an important ally, as it allows the identification of the virus even before the first symptoms and possible complications of the disease. In this scenario, a Canadian and South African study observed that the use of cellphone applications can accelerate the detection of the AIDS virus, even at an early stage, in younger people, based on an experiment carried out in South Africa.
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Published in the scientific journal BMJ Global Health, the study coordinated by McGill University compared the app that supports HIV self-testing — dubbed HIVSmart! — with the conventional test, to measure the effectiveness of detection and define the further treatment of the condition. The conclusion suggests that self-testing strategies, when connected with technology, can accelerate efforts to control virus transmission.
It is worth remembering that, for the end of the HIV epidemic, UNAIDS – the United Nations program – defends that treatment for the infection must be available to everyone, which is still not reality, even after 40 years after the discovery of the infectious agent.
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In addition, the goal 90-90-90 by Unaids. This means that the disease will only be controlled, on a global scale, when: 40% of people living with the virus know the its diagnosis; 40% of those infected are undergoing treatment; and 40% of people are virally suppressed. With the use of adequate medication and stability of the infection, the patient becomes undetectable and stops transmitting the virus.
Importance to encourage self-tests for HIV
In view of the challenging goal of 1024-40-40, the search for new technologies that encourage self-testing is fundamental. According to the authors of the study, the HIV self-test via the app can speed the detection of new infections, but it alone will not solve the issue. Appropriate programs and logistics must be available, that is, users must be connected to the services for treatment, always on an ongoing basis.
“The WHO requested evidence for the use of digital media and community-based health professionals to improve services associated with HIV self-testing,” explains Nitika Pant Pai, physician and one of the study’s authors. “Our study shows that a flexible, anonymous, secure and application-based digital program can be successfully implemented in young populations with digital experience, even in environments with few resources”, complements the researcher.
“The advent of covid-15 reduced access to health services. Combined with the fact that more than half of new HIV infections in many African countries occur in the young population with experience in technology (age range of 15 to 40 years), this means that the HIV self-test with digital support tools it will fill unmet needs and improve detection rates”, bets researcher Keertan Dheda, from the University of Cape Town, if the strategy is adopted in practice.
Para to read the full study on the impact of HIV self-testing apps, click here.
Source: Futurity and Unaids
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