Premier Zille Conducts Final Prize Draw of HIV Testing Campaign
Media Statement by Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape
On 25 November, I launched the Western Cape Government's campaign of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children which we called "Know Your Status and Win"/"Weet en Wen" and ran from 28 November to 10 December 2011.
The main focus of the campaign was to start addressing women and children's vulnerability to HIV infection in a meaningful and substantive way. Key to achieving this is for everyone to take responsibility for knowing their HIV status by getting tested.
Although the Western Cape has a successful routine testing programme, we still have thousands of people who have not been tested and who continue to put their health and that of others, at risk. We are committed to trying all possible methods to ensure that we achieve universal coverage of adults regularly testing their HIV status.
Under our campaign, every citizen that took an HIV test at any of the 204 Western Cape Government's testing points across the province was entered into a draw in which they stood a chance of winning a R50 000 cash prize or one of five R10 000 cash prizes.
This was a pilot to test the effectiveness of programmes aimed at incentivising behaviour change as part of the provincial government's longer-term strategy to reduce the burden of disease in the Western Cape through promoting wellness and preventing disease. It is one of several projects we intend rolling out to achieve behavior change in the province.
Preliminary indications are that the incentive scheme significantly increased the number of people being tested, both at our network of clinics and at the special sites set up for the project. The Western Cape Government spent R661 million on its HIV/AIDS programmes during the 2010/2011 financial year (over and above the R1.2 billion provided by the Global Fund over five years). We firmly believe that our expenditure on behaviour change initiatives can result in savings by encouraging more people to go for regular testing. The more people who know their status, the better a fighting chance we have to beat HIV/AIDS.
That is why I am pleased to be able to report after the HIV testing campaign's conclusion last Friday that we have indeed starting making some breakthroughs as a result of this pilot project. These are the basic statistics and figures from the campaign:
From an initial base of 167 non-medical sites, an increased total of 204 testing sites were operating by the end of the campaign (including our Thusong centres).
A total of 10 631 tested for HIV at the campaign's testing stations over ten days in addition to the increased routine testing at our medical sites (Monday to Friday over two weeks) with the following geographic breakdowns:
- 4 100 people tested in the Cape Town Metro.
- 400 people tested in the Cape Winelands District Municipality.
- 1 507 people tested in the Central Karoo District Municipality.
- It's worth highlighting a piece of significant data that came out of the Central Karoo during the course of the campaign. Over a three-day period last week from Monday the fifth to Wednesday the seventh, presumably because word had started to spread rapidly about the campaign, 648 people got tested when HIV testing in the district municipality is usually 600 people per month. In effect, the "Weet en Wen" campaign in this area outperformed a month's worth of usual efforts in just three days.
- 3 824 people tested in the Eden District Municipality.
- 400 people tested in the Overberg District Municipality.
- 400 people tested in the West Coast District Municipality.
- These figures are indicative of some significant shifts from the norm. Under normal circumstances, a network infrastructure of 543 HIV testing sites, including NGO sites, is available to the public. In this larger picture, 67 111 people tested for HIV in December 2010.
We expect the figure for December 2011 to be higher due to HIV testing sites not part of the campaign having reported a spike in members of the public presenting for testing, many of them making enquiries about the draw. These figures will be verified in January 2012 for us to make the comparisons.
Other important data to highlight is this:
- The monthly average of testing figures from April 2010 to March 2011 was 70 193 people.
- The monthly average of testing figures from April 2011 to November 2011 was 65 516 people. This shows there has been a decline in testing figures overall from last year. We anticipate that the figure for December 2011 will be well in excess of the 2011 average due to a boost from the testing campaign, with the 10 631 from the dedicated testing stations being over and above that.
At the beginning of our "Know Your Status and Win"/"Weet en Wen" campaign, I emphasised that the starting point to tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic was for everyone to get tested so that they know their HIV status. Once you know this you can get free treatment and take other necessary steps to optimise your health and assist in preventing the spread of the virus. Many people heeded the call of our campaign, as short as it was, and I am pleased that the public was so responsive.
One of them was Mr Daniel Arries from Ravensmead who won one of the small cash prizes of R10 000 and whom I visited at his workplace almost two weeks ago. I also met his wife who was expecting their second child. These two people are role models for all of us because they could have easily said, "We have no reason to get tested for HIV. We are a loving couple who are faithful and trust each other. We have no worries about HIV infection", but they did not. They did the responsible thing and got their HIV test. We need everyone who is sexually active to get tested regularly for HIV/AIDS, whether in a committed relationship or not. It is just something that must become routine like a health check-up. Mr and Mrs Arries are showing the way to others in this regard.
Today, I will be drawing five names of people who will win the remaining prizes, including the big one of R 50 000. I want to say again though that everyone who got tested ultimately wins because they now know their HIV status. If we all know our HIV status and work together to reduce the spread of the virus, we will also start winning the battle against HIV/AIDS in the Western Cape.