The minister of Public Health gave some explanations on the new systematic screening on HIV to Cameroon Tribune. Below is the interview.
Mr. Minister, is the systematization of HIV screening you announced an obligation?
HIV causes a number of opportunistic diseases. At the time of diagnosis of the sickness of a person, obscure knowledge of HIV status is currently a professional omission, which could be fatal for the patient. The note signed by the Minister asks what the screening be proposed to all patients. This is not an obligation but a recommendation. For it is better to know their status.
We thought that by examining the percentage of malaria in the blood of a patient, for example, laboratory technicians would go also for HIV?
The doctors will offer HIV testing. For someone with persistent fever, may actually have malaria, but also HIV. During the campaigns “Holidays without AIDS” or the Cameroon Week of AIDS, only volunteers were tested. We can not continue like this.
We can not reach 1.5 million people tested during a year by waiting on them in public places. already having a number of patients seen in hospitals and knowing that children constitute the largest number of patients in our hospitals, we want to ensure that they do not carry the virus.
But there people who see the introduction of these systematic screening, an open door to the stigmatization of patients?
There will be no stigma. As with any review, submitting results remain confidential. Then, the fact of making the test everywhere, will not focus attention on anyone in particular. This could be the case when we had queues during campaigns. HIV testing should be a standard examination to trivialize.
What are your plans for example to those who discover through malaria that they have AIDS?
We recruited social workers who will supervise, help show the way forward and accompany patients to treatment. It is a disease that can disrupt some habits, but it exists and we must live with it. The head of state decided that antiretroviral be free. They are available.
Are the systematic screening of HIV already launched?
The reagents are in hospitals already making prevention from mother to child. We have a little over 2,800 public health facilities. I planned a meeting with the College of Physicians and the union of private doctors, so that we put in place, collaboration tools, so that these tests are carried everywhere.