Wednesday, December 01, 2021

CoCT unveils two new layer of HIV testing strategies

The City of Cape Town has unveiled two new layer of HIV testing strategies.

The launch of the strategies coincides with World AIDS Day and includes self-screening and getting HIV+ clients to encourage their at-risk contacts to test.

City Health has unveiled two new testing strategies, namely:

·        Index Case Testing (ICT) which encourages those with HIV to get all ‘at-risk’ contacts (sexual contact, or young children and injecting drug partner(s) within the past year) tested for HIV

·        HIV Self-Screening which allows individuals to do their own HIV test, either in the presence of, and assisted by a healthcare worker, or not

 The City’s Mayco Member for Community Services and Health, Patricia van der Ross says the new strategies aim to increase the proportion of those who are HIV positive knowing their status, e.g. HIV self-screening may reach a higher proportion of people who have never tested before, and ICT aims to help those at possibly higher risk (from exposure) to test.

Public Health facilities in Cape Town offer different types of screening kits, including a blood-based screening test kit, for a fingerprick test (Insti) and an oral swab test (Oraquick).

‘’Forty years ago, the world saw the first visible signs of HIV. So much has changed since then, and the virus that once saw alarming fatality rates is now a manageable chronic disease. However, a lot still depends on getting tested, because if you don’t know your status, you cannot start the lifesaving treatment that has been developed for HIV/Aids.’’

‘’These new testing strategies are part of the City’s ongoing search for new ways to find undiagnosed people, and offer them treatment so that they remain healthy. It is a massive step forward, and I hope that the public will embrace what is on offer to them, and make informed choices about their health and that of their loved ones,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia van der Ross.

Apart from the new testing strategies, City facilities have also started with the roll-out of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services. This is an HIV prevention programme which allows people who test HIV negative to choose to take a daily tablet to prevent them from contracting HIV.

 This preventative treatment is recommended especially for people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, and will be provided to anyone requesting it. People have the choice of starting and stopping this preventative treatment based on their perceived risk at that period in their life.

‘’Anti-Retroviral Treatment Clubs continue to offer an efficient service for those stable on treatment, and in addition, staff have also started providing alternative ways for medication parcels to be collected, including setting up trailers outside health facilities, alternative pick-up points and Sha’p Left collections,’’ added van der Ross.

 

Courtesy: WHO

Done By: Mitchum George

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