Integrated Biometrics tech enables anonymous mobile HIV testing in South Africa
South African non-governmental organization “Shout It Now” is using fingerprint sensors from Integrated Biometrics in its mobile testing vans to provide anonymous AIDS testing. By using fingerprints to perform testing without any biographical information, the program encourages individuals to get tested by returning control to those tested, and avoiding the immediate stigmatization of individuals who test positive, according to the announcement.
The stigma of being identified as HIV positive prevents some from being tested, putting them and their communities at risk. Shout It Now offers an alternative testing procedure by driving its vans to areas frequented by young adults. A technician takes a fingerprint scan on Integrated Biometrics’ Watson Mini two-finger device, using an application developed by IDversol. After bloodwork and tests, the patient receives an SMS text with the results within 24 hours. Shout it Now provides result confirmation, counseling, and initial anti-retroviral therapy, when necessary, while patients make decisions about revealing their status.
“We are very pleased to have worked with Shout It Now to bring this program to fruition,” said Cher Appunn, founder and CEO of IDversol. “It’s a fascinating twist on our usual identity management customer — protecting identity rather than verifying it and doing so in a way that advances public health. We also thank Integrated Biometrics for their participation. We needed a foundational technology that was fast, thin, didn’t need cleaning between scans, and could take a beating out in the field. IB’s Watson Mini has been an ideal hardware solution for us.”
The testing takes as little as ten minutes per person, and the approach serves up to 250 people per day at each location. The mobile testing system was designed to help South Africa meet the United Nation’s “90-90-90” goals, to diagnose 90 percent of the HIV-infected population, treat 90 percent of those diagnosed with antiretroviral medications, and achieve 90 percent viral suppression among those receiving treatment.
The program’s success in increasing testing has motivated Shout It Now to extend the program to tuberculosis testing.
“Identity is a basic human right, and accurate, convenient identification is critical in health care,” added Stephen Thies, Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Biometrics. “The ability to encourage testing by using fingerprints to protect patient confidentiality is just another fantastic example of how this technology protects and saves lives. Shout It Now’s approach and IDversol’s solution for this public health challenge illustrate how critical identity is for building a better, safer world.”
It was recently announced that Integrated Biometric’s Columbo scanner is being used to extend health care to remote areas of Kenya.