By Rositta Liosi – EMTV Online
Last year Unicef reported that around 30,000 Papua New Guineans are living with the HIV virus. The rate of prevalence is estimated at 0.6 per cent among adults 15-49 years. A majority of transmissions are through sexual contact and just under 5 per cent make up for the mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
Here’s a great initiative which Papua New Guinea can learn from South Africa.
The Tutu Tester van is a mobile clinic launched in 2008 by the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) that provides HIV testing, together with screening for other common chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, diabetes, obesity and hypertension.
The Tutu tester concept represents the DTHF’s vision that HIV should be viewed as a chronic treatable condition, rather than one attached to stigma discrimination, and shame.
The mobile testing unit offers testing and counselling outside of the traditional clinic setting and operates in a number of sit’s in and around Cape Town.
Organisers of this project say that since the programme’s inception, thousands of individuals have tested on the Tutu Tester. On average up to 40-60 people are screened daily and more than 7, 000 people have received testing and counselling.
The Tutu Tester works to facilitate first time and repeated HIV testing among those living in under-serviced and high HIV prevalence areas in the Western Cape of South Africa.
There is greater privacy and convenience especially since waiting times are significantly less than at clinics. And most of the Tutu Tester clients prefer the mobile clinic over regular clincs.
The Tutu Tester does not provide treatment for, however professional counselling is available to help people cope with the bad news.
“We want the patient to leave the mobile clinic being relaxed. We do not want the outside world to read the news from our patients’ faces,” said Nokwayiyo Racaza, one of the three Tutu Tester counsellors.
Clients who test negative are counselled on how to preserve their negative status whilst those who test positive are provided with assistance to identify what stage they are in with the help of an innovative CD4 count machine and physical examination that enables appropriate referrals to other centres for follow-up care.
The intention of this whole project is for all South African’s to know their HIV status and to at least be able to get tested annually. The focus of organiser’s is on reducing the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission in all tested clients even if a person is positive or negative.
Have a look at this short clip of what the Tutu Tester is doing and how it is helping people in Cape Town.
Do you think this would work in Papua New Guinea?
For more information, check out the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation website.