AIDS is still a social taboo. Those affected often have a stigma that excludes them socially and from the care system. An early diagnosis through a simple self-test can decide about life and death. The non-profit LGBT Foundation therefore uses blockchain technology to make HIV tests freely accessible.
The LGBT Foundation places HIV self-tests on the Hornet Blockchain, which are available with LGBT tokens via a wallet of the Hornet app. This was the message from the LGBT Foundation on 2 December. The tests will be made available to help people diagnose themselves and combat the global problem of new HIV infections. Founded in 1975, the charity promotes the rights and needs of homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals worldwide.
A global problem
By 2018, approximately 37.9 million people worldwide were living with HIV. 79 percent of those affected were aware of their disease, while 8.1 million people were unknowingly living with HIV. Only 23.3 million people had access to health care. About 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2018 – and 770,000 people died as a result of their HIV infection.
These alarming figures from the German AIDS Federation make it clear: The immunodeficiency virus is still a global problem. Even if the number of infected people worldwide tends to decline, the spread of the HIV virus could be curbed by educational work and test procedures. However, in many countries, especially in structurally weak regions, the healthcare system is failing to provide patient care. The number of new infections is rising steadily in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
But even the German health system does not recognize the problem as a social one. As a rule, the costs are billed as an individual health service: The patient pays the bill himself. The visit to the doctor and the commitment to the illness are still associated with stigmatisation and fear.
Early diagnosis is crucial for the course of treatment. The sooner the virus is detected, the higher the probability of success of a drug treatment. One of the simplest and most efficient means in the fight against HIV is the HIV test.
Among people living with or threatened by HIV, marginalised groups and young people are not only the most vulnerable, but also the least able to take advantage of life-saving prevention and treatment services. The LGBT Foundation wants to reach this target group through the Hornet Blockchain, which runs on the Ethereum network. The Hornet platform’s social network app is used by 25 million people worldwide.
Many NGOs already provide vouchers with which people can order a test online or collect it free of charge from a pharmacy. The LGBT tokens, which can be used to order free or reduced-cost tests with a wallet in the Hornet App, serve a similar purpose.
The LGBT token will also be usable for the purchase of contraceptives in the future. In many parts of the world, the purchase of condoms and lubricants is not only difficult, but also associated with social exclusion. The use of tokens protects the anonymity of those affected.
Quality assurance and cost reduction
According to the LGBT Foundation, there is a trend towards online distribution of HIV tests. However, consumer platforms are often not subject to quality controls, which is why fake HIV tests have already been put into circulation.
HIV tests traded via the Hornet Blockchain, on the other hand, could benefit from transparent delivery channels and thus ultimately from higher quality standards. The ecosystem maps the entire process of manufacturers, wholesalers, clinics, NGOs, retailers and warehouses. Consumers can thus trace their orders back to the source and sources of error can be identified quickly.
The use of blockchain technology also has an impact on pricing. End distributors such as NGOs can bypass middlemen through DLT and thus save costs.