Dr. Avnish Jolly:Village health workers across India will soon be equipped to conduct pre and post test Counseling and HIV/AIDS tests through rapid HIV test kits, which need just a prick on a person’s fingertip and the results are known in 20 minutes. Currently India have around 2.5 million People Living with HIV/AIDS and there are nearly 4,500 ICTC centres.
Ajay Khera, Joint Director , National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) shared that we have recently adopted the Whole Blood Fingerprick Testing Technology (WBFTT) and have piloted the project in a few districts. We hope it will be rolled out across the country by early 2009.
NACO is National agency under the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, GOI to control and treat HIV/AIDS. It spreads awareness among people about HIV/AIDS though information and education campaigns and also providing care and support to the People Living With HIV
Khera added this will allow the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) visiting families in rural India to conduct HIV tests on people willing to do it and it will be pioneering concept of HIV/AIDS testing, care and support and help give a better picture of the disease.
He explained that since the health workers have good relations with the villagers and have access to families, equipping them for HIV tests would go a long way in reducing fear and stigma related with HIV/AIDS and if ANMs finds some one positive, then the person can come to the nearby Integrated Counselling And Testing Centre (ICTC) for confirmed tests and further counseling.
The new technology does not require separating serum and red blood cells from the blood sample, as is the practice now. This will help save time and reduce workload at ICTCs.
Khera added that presently people are called to the testing centre, counseled and then their blood samples are collected. They are then asked to come the next day to collect their report. “But with the new technology, we can save much time and said a pilot project to study its effectiveness is being conducted in 10 districts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. As soon as the pilot project’s results come in, it will be rolled out across the country.