Official Launch of the HIV Councelling and Testing (HCT) Campaign
The Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, today (Wednesday, 26 May 2010) launched the provincial HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign at the Michael Mapongwana Community Health Centre in Khayelitsha.
The launch marks the provincial roll-out of the largest HIV Counseling and Testing campaign yet in South Africa. This campaign will run from today (26 May 2010) until June 2011, the end of the current National Strategic Plan on HIV, AIDS and STIs (2007-2011).
All health care workers will be trained and encouraged to offer HIV testing to all their clientele. In the Western Cape, the District Health Services (DHS) program of the Department of Health will take the lead in this process. This means that while HIV testing is available at all health facilities in the province, including large hospitals, it is envisaged that most HIV testing will happen in primary health care facilities, community health centres and at non-medical sites and events in the broader community - these components together constitute what is known as the district health services of the Western Cape province, and last year these services saw head-counts of over seventeen (17) million people.
The event was attended by provincial ministers, the Provincial Parliament Standing Committee on Health, the Khayelitsha Health Forum, trade union representatives, various health officials from the provincial government and City of Cape Town.
The national campaign was launched on World AIDS Day last year for 2010. The core message of the campaign is "South Africa is taking responsibility". With this campaign the Department of Health aims to reduce new infections by fifty percent (50%) by 2011 and strengthen the linkage between HIV care and treatment.
With this campaign the Department of Health aims to encourage fifteen (15) million South Africans to voluntarily test for HIV and learn their status. The objectives are:
- to mobilise people to know their status - motivate them to stay negative if they test negative, take positive steps if they test positive;
- to get a more accurate measure of the size of the problem of new infections;
- to increase health seeking behaviour; and
- to increase access to treatment, care and support services.
The campaign has been designed to roll out progressively, starting in nine focus districts - one per province - and moving in succession to nine new districts every two months. In the Western Cape the Metro has been identified as the focus district for the launch. According to the National Antenatal HIV Prevalence Survey 2008 as well as the routine HCT data, Khayelitsha district has the highest HIV positive rate at thirty three point four percent (33.4%). However, the Western Cape boasts an HIV antenatal prevalence of approximately sixteen percent (16%), one of the lowest in the country. This is all the more reason to push for a massive testing campaign because it remains possible to achieve complete coverage of ART for all those in need of care.
With nearly 6 million people infected with HIV, South Africa has the highest recorded number of people living with this disease in the world. Actuarial projections estimate that (two-hundred and eighty thousand to three-hundred thousand) 280 000 - 300 000 people in the Western Cape are HIV positive. During the campaign the Western Cape aims to test about six-hundred and thirty five thousand (635 000) people in the Metro and two-hundred and seventy five thousand (275 000) in the five rural districts.
This will continue until all of South Africa's fifty-two (52) health districts have been covered. The focus for the next two months will be targeted at social mobilisation through community-based activities.
South Africa also has one of the world's worst tuberculosis (TB) epidemics. Statistics reveal that naught point one percent (0.1 %) of the population get infected with the TB disease every year. In order to have any success in curbing the spread of HIV and saving lives of those infected, South Africans have to succeed in controlling both HIV and TB epidemics.
Western Cape Department of Health
Western Cape Ministry of Health
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 082 771 8834
Fax: 021 483 4143
Principle Communications Officer
Department of Health, Western Cape
Tel: 021 483 9981