By Dr. Tshiwela Neluheni, Country Director, NASTAD South Africa
Linkage to and retention in HIV care amongst people living with HIV (PLHIV) have been identified as serious challenges in South Africa, where the HIV prevalence rate among adults aged 15-49 is estimated to be 19.1%. In the age of Treatment as Prevention, and in a country with an estimated 6.3 million PLHIV – the greatest number of PLHIV in any country in the world – linkage to and retention in HIV care is particularly critical. In an effort to help improve these outcomes, NASTAD South Africa collaborated with Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Health (PDOH) and the Regional Training Centre (RTC) to implement the Integrated Access to Treatment and Care (I ACT) program.
Staff supporting I ACT Implementation in Ehlanzeni District, including two Support Group Facilitators, a Facility Operational Manager and a Professional Nurse.
The I ACT program focuses on helping PLHIV link to and be retained in care, as well as maintain adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART). The program targets people recently diagnosed with HIV and recruits them into community and health facility based pre-ART and ART care and support group sessions. These support group sessions provide critical information about HIV, healthy living strategies, and treatment and care options, and help improve retention in care from the time of HIV diagnosis through ART initiation to lifelong care and treatment.
By Lucy Slater, Director, Global Program, NASTAD
NASTAD’s Global Program builds the organizational, programmatic and human resource capacity of partner public health programs around the world.
In this series of blog posts, we provide a snapshot of how we are supporting locally designed strategies to improve outcomes in the countries where we work. The previous posts describing how we are “Raising the Bars” can be found below:
By Anna Carroll, Associate, Global Program, NASTAD
NASTAD staff visit the Hlalanikahle Clinic with Mpumalanga Department of Health Staff, the Health Facility Manager and Facility Based Support Group Facilitators
Since 2002, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries has increased dramatically, from 300,000 in 2002 to 9.7 million in 2012. Despite this striking improvement, this represents only 34% of people currently eligible for ART under the 2013 WHO guidelines.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) Global Program has worked hard to reduce this massive treatment gap in South Africa, where an estimated 5.6 million people are living with HIV and AIDS, the greatest number of people in any country worldwide. In 2009, the South African government initiated the Integrated Access to Care and Treatment (I ACT) Program as one important component of its national response to the HIV epidemic. As a primary partner to provincial departments of health in South Africa, NASTAD began working in partnership with the Free State and Mpumalanga Provincial Departments of Health (PDoH) to support the implementation and development of I ACT in these provinces. Continue reading