Cape Town – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says the Department of Health has not commenced with self-testing for HIV.
The Deputy President was responding to a question in the National Council of Provinces on what facilities would be made available for immediate counselling for persons who make use of HIV/Aids self-test kits.
“The Department of Health has not commenced with self-testing for HIV. However, self-test kits have recently been approved by the South African Pharmacy Council and are available over the counter in retail pharmacies.
“It is critical to highlight that these kits are to be used only for screening, and those who screen positive must go to a health facility to have the confirmatory test done,” he said on Wednesday.
The Deputy President said a diagnosis can only be made once the second test, analysed at a laboratory, is done and the result is positive. He said the Pharmacy Council was currently finalising a standard operating procedure to ensure that pharmacies provide appropriate information for use of these kits.
“We encourage members of the public to use the services of the Department of Health’s call centre should they have any questions about the use of the kits or interpretation of results.
“Government continues to provide counselling services at all public HIV testing sites. We urge all South Africans who are sexually active to test for HIV regularly,” he said.
Food security for vulnerable groups
The Deputy President said, meanwhile, that government was committed to ensuring food security for the poor.
A member of the NCOP had asked whether the Inter-governmental Technical Working Group, which was constituted in 2014 to develop a National Food and Security Plan, received any written submissions and what measures are in place to encourage more participation in the consultation process.
The Deputy President said the Technical Working Group has utilised diverse mechanisms to consult with key stakeholders.
He said many submissions had been received. The inputs received are from a range of stakeholders and have been incorporated into the draft plan.
“Further consultations will be conducted with provincial government departments and key stakeholders prior to the finalisation of the plan.
“This work is critical, particularly in light of the current drought that is having a severe impact on food availability. The development of this draft plan underscores government’s commitment to ensure food security for the most vulnerable… We are hoping there will be further discussions and inputs as we have this plan implemented,” he said.