In July, the National Department of Health announced a ‘revitalization’ of the national HIV counselling and testing (HCT) campaign that was held in 2010/11. The campaign, like the first, intends to make knowing your HIV status top of mind for the public, but this campaign has also refined its focus.
The initial, 2010/11 national HCT campaign aimed to test 15 million adult South Africans within the course of a year. About 13 million people were reached. TB/HIV Care has been running an HCT programme since 2007 and supported the campaign within clinics and hospitals through ‘facility-based’ lay counsellors, and in communities through mobile teams consisting of a professional nurse counsellor and 3 lay counsellors. Over the course of the 2010/11 campaign year, TB/HIV Care tested 282 339 people. Last year, this rose to 417 501.
The new, ‘revitalized’ campaign is different. The targets set for this year are focused on specific groups of people or populations. The campaign will aim to reach sexually active people, those who have not tested before or within a year, on young people in high schools and tertiary institutions, and on people living in densely-populated areas where HIV prevalence is high. The idea is to target efforts to achieve the greatest impact.
Another aspect of the new national HCT campaign is that it has expanded beyond HIV into a full wellness package that includes screening for TB, sexually-transmitted infections and non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension, as well as promoting medical male circumcision and other methods of HIV prevention.
TB/HIV Care is well-placed to roll out this expanded package of care, and to reach the target populations. Each mobile team is equipped to test for HIV, to screen for TB, STIs, diabetes, hypertension and to measure body-mass-index. With mobile teams, TB/HIV Care is also well-suited to seek out the populations being targeted as these groups might not regularly visit health facilities.
TB/HIV Care Association will support the revitalized HCT campaign in all 10 districts in which the organization operates.