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HIV/Syphilis Test Kits to pilot in Tonga

Participants at the training. Photo: MEIDECC

NUKU’ALOFA-August 22: 4.23pm (Nuku’alofa Times/MEIDECC): Locals will be able to be tested for HIV and Syphillis by using the new  HIV and Syphilis Test Kit, which is going to be piloted in Tonga in the next three months.

A training programme was held here in Nuku’alofa this week, with Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist Dr. Ma’ake Tupou facilitating a one-day training at the Tanoa Hotel aiming to train Medical Officers and Nurses on the new kit.

Dr Tupou facilitating the training on Monday. Photo: MEIDECC

Dr Tupou facilitating the training on Monday. Photo: MEIDECC

The testing kit is a recently developed rapid diagnostic test that can detect HIV and Syphilis infections using finger prick blood or serum.

It is being piloted in five countries in the Pacific includng Kiribati, Palau, Samoa and Vanuatu, with Tonga as the fifth country.

The project is funded under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through Multi-Country Western Pacific Programme to improve the public health response to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Dr Tupou had attended a workshop in Nadi, Fiji in June.

That was where the new kit was introduced.

Dr Tupou said the current system tests for HIV and Syphilis separately and the existing diagnostics for these STIs are carried out on laboratory-based platforms. The sample is taken into a lab for further analysis and it takes time for the patients to get their results.

“On the other hand this newly introduced method will process two tests using this one kit.. Patients will get their results in 15 – 20 minutes. This will make it easier for the patients and Medical Officers,” Dr Tupou said.

He added that this kit will be very useful in such places that have no laboratories, like the Niuas.

”There are four major Hospitals in Tonga, these hospitals have labs but with places like the Niuas who do not have one, this kit will be very useful.”

The test kit will be used for the routine Health Test and it is available for anyone that needs screening for HIV and Syphilis.

“Routine Health Test, like the Antenatal Clinic, Public Servant Health Test, Travel Health Test which normally includes HIV/Syphilis tests, starting next month the new kit will be used, instead of going to the lab and we invite anyone that need screening for HIV and Shyphis to come along.’’

The kit will be piloted in three months and if the test is successful than it will continue to six other Pacific Island countries.

Participating in the training were Chief Medical Officer and National HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa, Medical Officers from the Antenatal Clinic, Lab technicians, Medical Officers from outer islands, representative from Tonga Leitis Association and representative from Tonga Family Health Association.

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