Mosamaria is delighted to have been chosen by SFH (Society for family health) to be the only pilot site implementing as an NGO for the HIV Self-screening project. Pilots in other provinces are being run directly be SFH. Our contract is for two years and started in mid-October 2018. We have a team of 14 distributors of the self-screening kits, with Mme Malebusho Molehe as the data officer, and Ntate Baeto Mogoera and Sindile Ali managing the project.
HIV Self-screening has already successfully been piloted in Malawi, Namibia and Zambia, and is now rolled out to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. The project is aimed at reaching people who have never tested for HIV and particularly men and young women between the ages of 15-24 and key population groups. We have to distribute 150,000 in two years. The slogan of the project is “As easy as 1,2,3 – Screen, Know, Act”. The funding comes from an international organisation called UNITAID and is called STAR (Self Testing Africa Initiative).
The team goes out into the community focusing on the target groups and asks people if they have ever tested for HIV. If not, they are offered a self-screening kit which they can take and test themselves in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. They are told exactly how the test works and counselled about preparing themselves psychologically for the results of the test. They are given a contact number and encouraged to phone us after they have tested themselves. If they are HIV+ then we offer them a confirmatory finger-prick test, and if they are confirmed HIV+ we take them to their clinic of their choice to see that they are initiated on to anti-retro-viral treatment. We keep in touch with them to encourage them to adhere to the treatment and to accept their HIV+ status.
The feedback we have got from these clients has been very good and they are telling so many others about this mode of testing that people are phoning us from many places to ask how they can get a self-screening kit.