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TAC supports the HCT campaign

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The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) supports the HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) Campaign, launched by President Jacob Zuma during April 2010. The HCT campaign aims to test 15 million people over the next 12 months and put us on path to meet our national targets to reduce new infections by 50% and provide treatment to 80% of people in need by 2011.

TAC is committed to furthering the objectives of the HCT campaign: to mobilize people to know their status; to support people with key prevention messaging in order to encourage them to take proactive steps towards a healthy lifestyle; to increase the incidence of health seeking behaviour; and to increase access to treatment, care and prevention services.

TAC actively works towards the achievement of these objectives in six priority districts: Ekurhuleni; Gert Sibande; Khayelitsha; O.R. Tambo; Mopani and uMgungundlovu.

In 2010, TAC expects to provide HCT messaging to at least 730,000 people. The TAC prevention and treatment literacy (PTL) programme involves 120 community-based workers working in communities and health facilities on a daily basis. The PTL programme also provides PMTCT counselling, ART readiness training, ART adherence training, and promotion of strategies and services for prevention of sexual transmission of HIV. TAC will also train 150 branch educators on the HCT campaign, to disseminate information to communities through TAC branches.

TAC will circulate key HCT messaging and education through the publication and distribution of print materials such as: 60,000 issues of each edition Equal Treatment magazine (five per year); 100,000 pamphlets; and 7,500 posters. Additionally, TAC will promote HCT through media and radio interviews. TAC will distribute condoms supplied by the Department of Health (DoH) in each of its districts. Condoms will be distributed in taxi ranks, hair salons, schools, and various other locations. Door-to-door campaigns will commence at the community level, consisting of condom distribution and HCT education.

TAC will support the DoH’s efforts to ensure uptake and availability of HCT through ongoing monitoring of implementation of the campaign at district level. TAC will routinely engage with the relevant health authorities. At community level, this work will be undertaken by TAC’s district coordinators, supported by 42 community health advocates working in conjunction with TAC branches.

TAC will publish a quarterly NSP review, including TAC’s overall assessment of implementation of the HCT campaign, and a description of TAC’s own work in supporting the HCT campaign.
Below is an overview of some of the activities that TAC has already begun to undertake in line with supporting the uptake and implementation of the HCT campaign.

The HCT campaign in the Eastern Cape was launched in Ingquza Hill on April 10, 2010. Ingquza Hill was chosen to host the HCT campaign because of its high antenatal HIV prevalence (26%) and high rates of sexually transmitted infections. The launch took place at Holy Cross Hospital, in Flagstaff, with approximately 3000 people in attendance.

TAC Lusikisiki’s community health advocates participated in social mobilization interventions in Malangeni A/A, Magwa A/A and Goso Forest A/A. TAC Lusikisiki’s prevention and treatment literacy practitioners visited clinics and provided face-to-face education on HCT.

TAC reading material including: 1500 copies of Equal Treatment Issue 32; HIV ebomini bethu; HIV in Our Lives; and flyers with updated ART treatment guidelines were distributed. TAC also handed out 147 000 male condoms and 4 000 female condoms.

Eastern Cape Premier, Noxolo Kiviet, and Eastern Cape Minister of Health, Phumulo Mosuale, were the first to undergo HIV testing. Overall, 356 women and 194 men were counseled for HIV, 326 women and 90 men were tested for HIV, and 151 people were tested for TB.

There were a few challenges faced during the launch such as blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, and anaemia testing were not available.

The antenatal HIV prevalence rate in Khayelitsha is 34.5%. TAC Khayelitsha recently attended a City of Cape Town plenary meeting for the province’s HCT launch. The meeting discussed the role that TAC will play during and after the launch. Training for health care workers on the HCT campaign will be available. The launch will take place on 26 May 2010 at the Micheal Mapongwana health facility in Khayelitsha. During the event, the Premier and all the Members of the Executive Council will publicly take an HIV test.

Mopani has the highest HIV prevalence rate in Limpopo due to its mining and farming activity. At the HIV Counseling and Testing campaign launch, a team of lay counselors and nurses visited a farming community in Tzaneen. Tents were set up for mobile counseling rooms. TAC Mopani and the district DoH will engage in HCT mobilization for the month of May.

TAC uMgungundlovu met with the district DoH on 10 May 2010 to plan the approach for the HCT campaign. Both TAC uMgungundlovu and the DoH have agreed to support each other in every possible way. The focus of the campaign is to have HIV testing and CD4 count testing available five days a week, in three sites per ward. The DoH aims to have 322 000 by June 2011. Each person tested will receive 100 free condoms. Referrals to local clinics or hospitals for ARV treatment will also occur as needed.
TAC prevention and treatment literacy practitioners (PTLPs) will spend at least two days per week in clinics, educating outpatients and community members on HCT. PTLPs will also distribute HCT pamphlets and condoms.

Gert Sibande district has an antenatal HIV prevalence rate of 40.5%, the highest in Mpumalanga. The HCT campaign is important to detecting new cases and increasing access to treatment, care and prevention in the district.

TAC Gert Sibande facilitated training for prevention and treatment literacy practitioners (PTLPs) and community health advocates (CHAs) on the updated treatment guidelines. TAC Gert Sibande also carried out training with branches on the updated guidelines and the HCT campaign. TAC PTLPs disseminated information to nurses in eighteen sites. A door-to-door campaign, which encouraged people to get tested through the HCT campaign, access earlier treatment and inform them of their improved health rights under the new guidelines, also took place.

TAC Gert Sibande engaged in regular planning meetings convened by the DoH and the Gert Sibande District AIDS Council. The meetings focused on the collective drafting of the programme for the launch, and methods to encourage social mobilization. TAC and partners agreed to play a central role in community social mobilization. TAC Gert Sibande also plans to meet with all the HAART coordinators in the district to discuss how TAC branches can support the HCT district target. The district aims to test 582 000 people in a population of 920 580.

HCT in Mpumalanga launched on 30 April 2010 at the Winifred Maboa Community Health Centre in Gert Sibande. In total, 741 people registered to access health services. 571 people were counseled for HIV, with 567 tested for HIV. 120 people tested for TB. Furthermore, 9 people tested anemia, 36 people tested blood pressure, and 31 people had blood sugar screened. Pap smears, STI screening, opportunistic infection screening, family planning, and blood donation services were also available but had a very low turnout. 48,000 male and 4,500 female condoms were distributed.