Early diagnosis enables patients to make more informed decisions about their health and allows them to manage their illness more effectively. They are also able to access treatment earlier and could seek further counselling and support where needed.
Anova offers HCT at all of its projects. The project teams also frequently initiate HCT drives in their communities and are often invited to offer their services at other community events.
Effectively conducting an HCT session requires skill on the part of the counsellor.
A counsellor would usually use the opportunity to share information regarding sexual health with all patients, regardless of their status. Where test results are positive, the counsellor will also need to support the patient through a potentially very traumatic experience.
In order to ensure counsellors are given all the tools they may need to provide an effective and efficient service, Anova supports counsellor training in a number of ways. Through a partnership with HIVSA, Anova supports the first certified training course for counsellors.
Involving nurses in HCT
Nurses are in many ways at the frontline of the epidemic, making it critically important for them to be thoroughly equipped with the knowledge and skills to identify HIV risk or infection and to take the appropriate responses.
To this end, Anova has been encouraging nurses to initiate and provide HIV counselling and testing to all patients. Whilst most health facilities already offer HIV counselling and testing as a separate procedure, usually conducted by a trained counsellor, encouraging nurses to proactively offer a test during a general clinic visit ensures that more patients know their status.
Anova’s Soweto-based Tirisanong team has trained over 250 nurses in Provider Initiated Counselling and Testing (PICT), where nurses are taught the appropriate counselling and testing procedures.
After a series of clinical trials found that circumcised men were considerably less likely to contract HIV from their female partners,medical male circumcision has been added to the package of HIV risk-reduction interventions, endorsed both by the World Health Organization and the South African Department of Health.
Anova played a key role in the successful rollout of medical male circumcision in South Africa. As the main funding partner of the Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention Studies (CHAPS) Anova was able to assist and support the Department of Health with the development of national guidelines, setting up of provincial meetings and supporting the expansion of MMC sites.
Overall, Anova supported six MMC sites through CHAPS – namely Orange Farm MMC centre, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and Zola Clinic (Gauteng) and the Tintswalo and Mapulaneng Hospitals (Mpumalanga) and Ernest Oppenheimer Hospital in Welkom (Free State), offering MMC as part of their prevention package.
Whilst this partnership has now ended, Anova continues to work towards the promotion of MMC by finding innovative ways of encouraging men to take up this relatively new option in aid of their sexual health.
This procedure is offered at no cost, for many men making the journey to the clinic is costly.
Anova’s Bushbuckridge team has responded by providing transport from outlying rural areas to the circumcision sites. As a value-added health care service, passengers are shown an educational film on men’s sexual health and correct wound care after the procedure in the van.