TB HIV Care Staff Elected to Represent Civil Society on the Western Cape Provincial Council on AIDS

Civil Society from several districts met at the Lentegeur Conference Centre between 04 and 05 March, to engage on the representation of the Western Cape Provincial Council on AIDS at SANAC meetings. It provided sector members with valuable understanding and training on SANAC objectives and procedures but also focused on the election of sector and district leaders and the Provincial Civil Society Forum Chairperson. TB HIV Care represented many of its programmes by standing for election in some of those sectors including women, health professionals, PLHIV, research, sex workers and legal/human rights. On 5 March, the following TB HIV Care staff were elected by their sector members to represent on the Provincial Council on AIDS: Julie MacDonnell as Sector Leader for Legal and Human Rights and Professor Harry Hausler as Sector Leader for research.  Within minutes, Harry was required to vacate that particular leadership post as he was elected as the Civil Society Forum Deputy Chairperson for the Western Cape Provincial Council on AIDS.  The Cape Metro district elected Ndumi Mtshiselwa as their district chairperson.

The Civil Society Forum members then elected Yolaan Andrews as the Resource Mobilisation Committee Convener and Prof Harry Hausler as the Programme Review Committee Convener for the province. TB HIV Care is proud to represent the Western Cape province and will continue to support all sectors and SANAC in its implementation of the National Strategic Plan.

Condom Week: What a week it was!

Last week was Condom Week. It is a critical week on the health calendar as it is used to educate the public on STIs and how to prevent them through condom use. Our vision is to be the leader in empowering communities to be healthy and free of TB and HIV. To achieve our vision, we need to continually search for innovative ways to reach as many South Africans as possible.

Facebook Live

TB HIV Care went live on Facebook for the first time in June 2019, and we received 84 views. Last week, the Communications Unit, along with IT, joined Team Southern (Cape Metro) on outreach in Vrygrond. Our first session of the day received 837 views.

Streaming live is a useful communication tool as it is a personal and authentic way to communicate with both internal staff and the public at the same time.

We arrived in Vrygrond at 11:45 on a sweltering hot day. I was surprised how quickly the outreach team was able to set up everything and get going.

Everyone knew what their roles were and executed them brilliantly. The event consisted of three sessions.

In the first session, Nondumiso Mtshiselwa (also known as Ndumi), who is the Priority Population Prevention Coordinator, introduced TB HIV Care by informing everyone about who we are and what we do. Ndumi went on to engage with the audience around the use of condoms, the importance of knowing one’s status and invited a volunteer to participate in a condom demonstration.

In the second session, Ndumi interviewed a young lady that was waiting in line to get tested, and asked her why she wanted to be tested. A live HIV testing session followed the interview. The purpose of this session was to provide the public with an understanding of the testing procedure and what to expect when one goes for an HIV test.

The last session included a brief interview with the same young lady after her test, discussing her thoughts and feelings around the testing process. Ndumi then informed everyone of their upcoming outreaches and plans for the rest of the month. Right at the end of the shoot, we all gathered to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day.

Ndumi was outstanding, a true professional. She knew exactly how to engage the audience and along with her team were able to create a lively atmosphere. Anelisiwe Piliso (Intern) filmed the live sessions, helped with the branding and stepped in wherever she was needed. Darian Faro (Junior IT Technician) provided much-needed advice in the build-up to the event and handled the setup of the sound system and connectivity. Ayanda, the new Communications Administrator, assisted with the branding and obtaining consent from those in attendance. Thank you, everyone!

We can do more

We are often looking to target a specific audience, and with boosted posts, we can do just that. Exciting times ahead, the possibilities are endless. Watch this space!

If you missed the Facebook Live, log on, like our page, and check out all the videos from the day.

Other Condom Week activations

Phatiswa De Wet from the Central Library in Cape Town invited TB HIV Care to be part of their ‘Month of Love’ activities by conducting a talk on condoms and using them correctly to combat the spread of HIV and STIs.

Phatiswa extended an invitation to local high schools and CPUT students to attend the session. Des Schouw (Training Coordinator) facilitated an interactive group activity where both male and female participants attempted a condom demonstration, with the audience assisting when they went wrong. The students asked many questions, and Des challenged the group by throwing back questions like;

    • How safe is the condom?
    • Do you know why female condoms are not well received?
    • Have you seen a female condom before?The participants were eager and stayed engaged throughout the session. They requested that this be an ongoing event as many students come to the library on a Friday, and they would love to learn more. A request to return is a good indication that all went well.

Well done team!

Support Groups for Women Who Use Drugs is Making a Difference

More than a year ago, to identify how many women were not accessing services and the reasons why, SANPUD conducted an informal needs assessment through focus groups with women you use drugs. The aim was to identify what services they need and whether women-focused groups would be beneficial. TB HIV Care adopted the findings from the groups, which recommended the approach, and formed women-specific groups in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

The response to the formation of these groups for women who use drugs has been overwhelming. In Cape Town, the groups started in February 2019 and take place every Friday at the Drop-in Centre. The group has grown tremendously in size. It began with a handful of women and has grown between 15-20 members each week.

The support that women who use drugs provide for each other within these groups has been incredible to see. Group material is relevant to their context, with a variety of topics such as goal setting, building self-esteem, gender-based violence, abusive relationships, childcare and appreciation of self, substance use and therapeutic work. The team plan on introducing topics around skills development, to aid integration into the workforce.

These groups have been influential among women who use drugs as they provide them with a support network where they can process experiences with women who have had shared experiences.

Family reunification has been a primary motivating factor in their desire to make changes related to substance use.

One participant shared the impact that the group has made on her life. “Parts of my life have dramatically improved. This group is 100% a safe space for me to express issues I have been holding onto for many years. “