HIV self-testing enables anyone to find out their HIV status, says the WHO

HIV self-testing enables anyone to find out their HIV status, says the WHO

Representative of WHO in Timor-Leste, Arvin Mathur (Image Tatoli/Francisco Sony)

DILI, 04 april 2023 (TATOLI) – WHO Representative in Timor-Leste, Arvind Mathur, says WHO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), is making efforts to work with key populations to bring HIV self-testing to prevent and control HIV/AIDS in Timor-Leste.

“It is very important to work with key populations. It is one of the efforts we have made with the Ministry of Health and the Key Population Association (KPA) to bring in HIV self-testing,” Mathur says at the World Health Day celebration, in Dili.

According to UNAIDS, HIV self-testing empowers anyone, particularly those who are most vulnerable, called key populations.

“HIV self-testing allows people to find out their HIV status wherever and whenever they want. Because it is easy, quick, and private, people may be encouraged to test earlier than they would if they had to visit a health facility, potentially bringing an earlier diagnosis. Any HIV-positive result must, however, be followed up with a second test by a healthcare provider to confirm the result and get linked to appropriate prevention, treatment, and care,” says UNAIDS. 

Mathur highlights once somebody tested HIV positive, the person can be put on HIV treatment called antiretroviral therapy (ART).

ART involves taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. ART cannot cure HIV, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, and healthier lives.

“The positive patient can be put on antiretroviral treatment and these drugs are also available. At the same time, Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) treatment has also now been brought in by WHO and is available as well,” he says.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) refers to taking HIV medication within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV to prevent infection. 

“So this is the effort for us to break the transmission of HIV in the country,” Mathur reiterates.

Timor-Leste continues to see an increase in the number of HIV cases every year. The country recorded 202 cases in 2020, 214 infections in 2021, and 250 cases in 2022.

The number of people who are living with HIV is much higher than the officially recorded cases. 

According to official data revealed by the HIV/AIDS, STD, and Hepatitis Unit, since 2003, the Health Ministry has registered 1776 cases of HIV.

In 2022, the Ministry of Health received almost US$1.7 million from the Global Fund to support its National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program. The Global Fund also made available US$1.3 million for Timor-Leste to combat HIV in 2023.




Journalist: Filomeno Martins 

Editor: Nelia Borges


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