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Sunday Times-South Africa

Homing in on HIV - an NGO's crusade




 

Home testing for HIV in the sprawling eMalahleni township in Mpumalanga is revolutionising the fight against the killer virus, allowing people to be tested in the privacy of their homes.

Oscar Motau, 25, and his aunt Paulinah Nhlapho, 61, would still be in the dark about their HIV status if it were not for the crusade pioneered by the Society for Family Health, the non-government organisation best known for its voluntary testing drive New Start.

"Getting tested has always been on my mind but I just never got to do it for no particular reason," said Motau as he moved closer to the HIV test kit placed on a coffee table by the organisation's counsellor, Nozulu Msiza.

Nhlapho said she has been sexually inactive since her husband died four years ago but would take the test on principle.

Both tested negative and Msiza encouraged Motau always to practise safe sex.

Nhlapho, a mother of two grown children, said she had not talked to her nephew about sex because she grew up being taught that such discussions were taboo.

Between July - when the programme was launched - and October, 83 families, or 807 individuals, in eMalahleni township and neighbouring farming communities have been tested .

Site manager Edith Ngqukuvane said that, of all the families visited so far, only one has turned the society's field workers away .

"This is a very important programme because people who cannot go to health facilities or [who are] turned off by long queues get an opportunity to get tested in the privacy and comfort of their home.

"This also makes it conducive for family members to disclose their status and get family support," she said.

She would not reveal how many people tested positive for HIV because, she said, to do so would jeopardise the campaign.

On their door-to-door crusade, the field workers also take sputum from families which they send to the local clinic for TB screening.



 


Copyright © 2012 -Sunday Times (South Africa), Publisher. All rights reserved to The Sunday Times. Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal sreference) must be cleared through the The Sunday Times Permissions Desk.

Information in this article was accurate in November 6, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.