HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign
The national HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, which aims to mobilise 15 million South Africans to test their status before June 2011, was launched by the South African Government in April 2010. The Deputy Chairman of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), Mark Heywood, has said it is the “biggest the world has ever seen”. The campaign goes hand-in-hand with Government’s actions to increase access to treatment, care and support for those who are HIV infected.
The business sector has also stepped up to the challenge. Led by the South African Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS (SABCOHA), companies have co-developed and agreed to a strategy that will mobilise the resources and the skills of the business sector to meaningfully support Government in achieving its targets. Prominent business leaders stood shoulder to shoulder with Government officials at the national launch in Gauteng in April, as well as at the subsequent provincial launches, to demonstrate the support of the business sector.
The business sector’s plan for realising the HCT targets has committed South African companies to testing two million of the 15 million targeted by Government. This includes employees, dependents and members of local communities. Business is already engaged in HIV related as well as other offerings under the Wellness banner – and this approach has proven to be effective.
The business strategy supports the provision of the full package of wellness screening and prevention services recommended in the National HCT Campaign Strategy. The HIV test, being offered free at all public health facilities, is one of a set of wellness tests intended to raise awareness about lifestyle diseases and encourage people to take responsibility for their own health and wellness. HCT service providers will set up in selected public spaces, or partner with existing public facilities to offer services. Wellness screening and prevention services will be coupled with proper referral for treatment, care and support at public health facilities.
The business HCT funding strategy is influenced by the reality that many large and corporate companies have implemented on-site campaign-style testing over several years, achieving high levels of participation. These companies are encouraged to now focus on populations not previously exposed to HCT and wellness initiatives in support of the campaign, and to adopt and support the National HCT Campaign as an integral and complementary element of their comprehensive wellness and HIV and AIDS management programmes/systems. The integrated wellness strategy that the HCT campaign follows allows for mitigation of the future impact of health on business, and takes into account the impact of HIV/AIDS in the local communities where companies operate. These efforts tie in with the current focus of the HCT campaign, to have everyone know their HIV/Aids status.
A lot of groundwork has already been done by SABCOHA towards bringing HCT costs down for the business sector. A number of partnerships have been established to work towards reducing the cost of HIV test kits, thus increasing access to HCT. Various health management centres have been contracted to assist with testing, with various medical aid companies having also come on board with specific programs to assist members living with the disease.
Monitoring and Reporting
Projects must be able to count and verify the number of people reached through maintaining adequate monitoring systems, records and supporting documentation e.g. a register of IEC activities, invoices for materials printed/produced, HCT uptake registers, etc.
Through the HCT service providers, projects are requested to align their monitoring systems to enable reporting on SABCOHA’s online reporting tool, Bizwell (www.bizwell.co.za), which ensures data collection while maintaining the confidentiality of individual company data.
It is your responsibility too. Find out today where you can go for an HIV test by sending an SMS to 31771 with HIV and the postal code of the area where you live, and you will receive the names of the public health facilities in your area that offer the wellness tests, or call the AIDS helpline on +27 0800 012 322