On Friday 16 March 2012 health workers, counselling organisations, activists and the National Department of Health met in Hillbrow to discuss how to improve HIV testing and counselling. The meeting was hosted by the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, the Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27.
Joint Statement by the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, Treatment Action Campaign, SECTION27, WITS Reproductive Health & HIV Institute, iTEACH, Marlise Richter, Children’s Rights Centre, the Yezingane Network, Society for Family Health, MSF (Doctors Without Borders)
- Implement routine monitoring and evaluation of counsellors to ensure that they carry out test protocols properly and provide clients with accurate, essential information.
- Ensure that clients who test HIV-positive can have a CD4 count, whether that is immediately at the testing site, which is ideal, or via referral by the counsellor to another facility.
- Only allow high quality approved HIV tests with high sensitivity and specificity to be used.
- Ensure that counsellors give high-quality approved condoms to all people who get tested.
- Ensure that HIV test results are kept confidential.
- Ensure that testing sites have adequate physical space to provide a confidential service.
- Health facilities should also offer TB screening and psychosocial support for people who test HIV-positive. However, we recognise that only a fraction of facilities can currently do this because of a lack of resources in the public health system. HIV testing and treatment should take place even when these services are not available.