UNAIDS GOALS

NMS targets men at work with HIV self-test kits

Nairobi is one of the high burden counties for HIV, with 11 per cent of people living with virus

In Summary

• HIV testing among men is only 45 per cent compared to 72 per cent among women, studies show.

• The NMS wants to bridge this gap. 

Nairobi Metropolitan Services deputy director preventive and promotive health Dr Thomas Ogaro and Population Services Kenya CEO Joyce Wanderi launch a self-testing kits vending machine at Naivas Headquarters in Nairobi on February 12, 2020
Nairobi Metropolitan Services deputy director preventive and promotive health Dr Thomas Ogaro and Population Services Kenya CEO Joyce Wanderi launch a self-testing kits vending machine at Naivas Headquarters in Nairobi on February 12, 2020
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

The Nairobi Metropolitan Services is reaching out to men at their workplaces with HIV self-testing kits to boost uptake of the service. 

HIV testing among men is only 45 per cent compared to 72 per cent among women, studies show. The NMS wants to bridge this gap. 

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics census report 2019 shows Nairobi is one of the high burden counties for HIV. It contributes to 11 per cent of people living with the virus. This translates to an estimated 167,446 out of the county’s population of more than 4.3 million residents.

In 2020, HIV prevalence was 5.4 per cent down from 6.1 per cent in 2018, with new infections estimated to be 4,446.

According to Dr Thomas Ogaro, Nairobi has 392 health facilities offering HIV testing service and 232 giving care and treatment services across public, private, NGO and faith-based hospitals. Ogaro is the deputy director, preventive and promotive health at the Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

“We have partnered with Population Services Kenya and deployed four HIV self-testing kit vending machines. This timely intervention will see the dispensing of free HIV testing kits to employees,” he said.

“The kits include an insert manual with information to support an individual performing an HIV self-test, including details of a WhatsApp chatbox or dialling 1190 for any additional information.”

Free HIV self-testing is done at the community level targeting men and young persons at workplaces. The county is working on a plan to have an online distribution of the kits.

Nairobi Metropolitan Services deputy director preventive and promotive health Dr Thomas Ogaro and Population Services Kenya CEO Joyce Wanderi launch a self-testing kits vending machine at Naivas Headquarters in Nairobi on February 12, 2020
Nairobi Metropolitan Services deputy director preventive and promotive health Dr Thomas Ogaro and Population Services Kenya CEO Joyce Wanderi launch a self-testing kits vending machine at Naivas Headquarters in Nairobi on February 12, 2020
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Other HIV services include prevention of mother to child transmission, provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis, integration into family planning service delivery points and voluntary medical male circumcision.

Population Services Kenya has been working with the Health Ministry and NMS HIV unit towards achieving the country’s UNAIDS strategy of 90-90-90 targets.

CEO Joyce Wanderi said many people want a discreet choice where they can conduct a self-test wherever they are and link up to a place for treatment should they find out they are positive.

“In Kenya, you will find a lot of women will go for testing largely because their health-seeking behaviours are that way. Women have to go to a hospital to check for their reproductive health needs or for their children but men may not necessarily do that. So we have to be cognizant that we have to create innovations around testing so that men can get access,” Wanderi said.

The organisation has distributed more than 140,000 self-testing kits around the country.