Safe sex startup offers HIV tests in disguise

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, but just 10% of the population get tested.

Story highlights

  • Anonymous STD tests aim to bypass social stigma
  • Nigeria has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world
  • Government, health experts cautiously support self-testing

(CNN)Sexual health tests in Nigeria can be a harrowing ordeal.

In addition to the anxiety of discovering their results, visitors to public clinics must face the stigma around sexual activity that remains prevalent in Nigerian society.
    "People stare a lot when you go for testing, especially if you are unmarried," says Vivian*, a cosmetics store manager from Abuja.
      "They look at you like you are wayward or naughty."
      Many Nigerians escape social judgment by avoiding tests, with deadly consequences. In a country with one the world's highest rates of HIV infection, just 10% of the population has been tested for the disease, according to government statistics.
      Prevalence of Hepatitis B, another sexually transmitted killer, is even higher.
      But Vivian is one of the first customers of a service that allows Nigerians to avoid choosing between their safety and their reputation.

      Anonymous service

      SlideSafe packages are brightly-colored and give no indication of their contents.
      "You could have it in front of your mother and she wouldn't know," quips company founder Florida Uzoaru.