Opinion
Early HIV Counselling and Testing is only way to an HIV/AIDS-free generation
Publish Date: May 01, 2013
newvision
  • mail
  • img

By Rosette Maran Mugumya

The 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey shows that although 90% of Ugandan adults aged 15-19 years know where to get an HIV test, only 57% have been tested and received the results. And of those that tested HIV positive, only 40% knew they were HIV positive. This means that millions of Ugandans are living with HIV but they do not know. This is a very unfortunate situation given that HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) is the only way through which the infected people will be identified and then put on treatment.

Several studies, including one done in Rakai district, Uganda, show that when people living with HIV are put on treatment, it reduces the number of viruses circulating in their blood. As this happens, the ability of the person living with HIV to spread HIV to another person reduces substantially. In addition, another study done on couples where one was HIV positive and the other HIV negative also in Rakai district in February 2011 showed that HIV transmission was reduced significantly after the HIV positive partner started treatment. This means that, if we can manage to identify people living with HIV through early testing and put them on ARVs, they would not spread the virus.

Thus, after years of mainly using Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT), where HIV testing is provided to individuals who seek the service out of their own free will, efforts are now urgently needed to increase the provision of HIV testing through a wider range of options within the reach of every Ugandan. Such options would include routine testing and counseling, mobile counseling and testing plus home-based counseling and testing, followed by immediate linkage to treatment.

Routine testing and counseling is where by individuals who go to a health centre are offered HIV testing as part and parcel of other services they may require, irrespective of the presenting illness that has brought them to the health centre. The principle of the mobile counseling and testing approach is to take the service to populations that are considered to be ‘hard-to-reach’, such as internally displaced populations, sex workers, long distance drivers and employees at their workplaces while the home-based approach is whereby HIV counselors offer HIV counseling and testing services in clients’ homes.

The biggest advantage with the above approaches is that they complement each other; while the routine one targets individuals visiting health facilities, the mobile one caters for those not coming to the health facilities and the home-based one caters for all the rest. The last two approaches also have the advantage of eliminating the cost of transport to the test site as well as increasing uptake especially among women, as they do not need to seek permission or money for transport from their male partners. These approaches can also reduce stigma associated with being seen at the clinic.

Needless to say, early access to treatment is an extremely promising tool in our fight to get to zero new HIV infections but it requires that millions of people with HIV get to know their status early. This can only happen where capacity and HIV/AIDS related services are availed with immediate high quality linkage to care and support. So as Ugandans, if we embrace wide-spread and regular testing and counselling using the three approaches above, immediate linkage to care and immediate treatment, we can have an HIV/AIDS-free generation in a decade!

The writer is a Makerere University School of Public Health-CDC Fellow

 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Poverty and greed: the major culprits of environmental degradation
Our standards of living are based on inexpensive energy in the form of electricity and gasoline powering automobiles that are the major contributors to environmental problems in the world today, but let us not forget that earlier in history; automobiles were actually heralded for solving a distinct...
Climate change: The Impossible deal
For “shall”, substitute “may”. For example, change “countries signing this climate change treaty SHALL state how much they are going to cut their greenhouse emissions” to “countries signing this climate change treaty MAY state how much they are going to cut their emissions if they feel like it, but...
Who really cares about the Ugandan girl?
The UCE and UACE 2014 public examinations are now done with and the other classes are at home for Term Three holidays. The students from the secondary schools especially have flooded our localities. Most conspicuous of them will be the girls; but who cares?...
A delegate conference is not a pilgrimage
At the last NRM delegate’s conference held at Namboole, the National Executive tabled a motion regarding the period at which the holding of a delegate’s conference should be....
Corruption: they that are not corrupt can hurl the stones
So the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Uganda 142nd out of 175 countries, according to Transparency International. Based on expert opinion, Transparency International says our level of public sector dishonesty is 26 out of 100. Denmark is the most transparent with a score of 92/100 while So...
The evil of deforestation
Africa is facing very many problems but few have been solved. One of the major ones is environmental degradation through deforestation. Deforestation is having a big impact on the environment....
Do you agree with the ban on the export of maids?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter