Fighting Nigeria’s Sexual Health Stigma One HIV Testing Kit At A Time
How a female entrepreneur is helping women take control of their health.
Photo by Anna kropekk_pl/Pixabay.
THE GOOD NEWS:
One woman is reducing stigma in Nigeria by delivering self-testing HIV kits straight to the homes of patients.
In Nigeria, deeply embedded cultural fears and stigmas have largely prevented health advocates from educating the population on sexual health concerns. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the limited number of people getting tested only exacerbates this problem. Instead of further shaming Nigerians into getting tested or ignoring the problem altogether (as some Americans have done to disastrous effect), the health startup Slide Safe thought to deliver testing kits straight to sexually active adults.
As a Nigerian native and entrepreneur in the health industry, Florida Uzoaru wanted to address her home country’s escalating HIV problem in a way that made women, in particular, feel comfortable and safe. With Slide Safe’s take-home kits, consumers can test themselves for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis in the privacy of their own homes. For added discretion, the kits are concealed in brightly colored packages with no identifying information. That way customers can get the kits without having to fear that delivery drivers, co-workers, housemates, or family members will be able to know what’s inside.
As of November 2017, Slide Safe has delivered more than 700 of the kits, NewsDeeply reports. In addition to the self-testing kits, Uzoaru’s business also delivers condoms and sexual lubricants. It’s a wonder Uzoaru has managed to achieve this much in less than a year considering the negative feedback she’s received in her own community. Revealing just how much fear surrounds the topic of safe sexual practices, several hotels have refused to carry Safe Slide kits, and a few of Uzoaru’s family members expressed regret, according to NewsDeeply.
But for Uzoaru, the struggle is worth it. She’s received positive feedback from women who previously felt too embarrassed to seek information from their health care providers. At a cost of $11, the kit is currently accessible to many — something Uzoaru wants to improve by lowering the price this year.