North West reaches provincial HCT target

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pretoria - The North West Health Department is close to reaching its target of getting one million people tested for HIV by June this year.

Since the national launch of the HIV, Counselling and Testing (HCT) by President Jacob Zuma in April last year, the province has achieved 99 percent of its target, with 998 859 people visiting the provincial health services and getting tested. Nationally, over seven million people had tested for HIV by April.

Launched in April, the campaign forms part of government's new and up-scaled HIV and Aids prevention and treatment plan.

The objectives of the new scaled up plan is to reduce the rate of infection by 50 percent by 2011 and to provide ARV treatment to 80 percent of those who need the treatment.

Other objectives of the new implementation plan include more emphasis on prevention through information, education, widespread distribution of condoms and mobilisation of millions of South Africans to know their status.

The North West Health Department is currently strengthening the marketing of Choice condoms as a quality brand and working to improve consistent and correct condom usage.

The department has also registered a remarkable progress with the High Transmission Area (HTA) programme, aimed at truck drivers and commercial sex workers and other high risk groups.

The project is part of the province's response to the national strategy on HIV and AIDS, aimed at preventing the spread of STI, HIV and AIDS in areas that cannot be reached through standard awareness campaigns and day-to-day Primary Health Care services.

Currently there are two formal intervention sites in Zeerust and Vryburg and some informal intervention sites referred to as "hot spots", plans are underway to open an additional five intervention sites.

In order to successfully implement the project, the numbers of peer educators deployed at intervention sites, hot spots as well as in communities, have been increased from 52 to 83, the department said.

Case finding of Tuberculosis (TB) has increased, from 33 000 last year, to 34 000 this financial year through TB screening due to an increased number of patients diagnosed during HCT campaign.