The Health Department has set up one-stop centres to make services
accessible to all affected by HIV and AIDS
However, most of those who visit the centres are still women. Men are
still not too comfortable with knowing
In the past many people died of Aids without anyone knowing about
This happened mainly because those who were living with the disease
were afraid of being isolated by their own communities.
Now with the government’s comprehensive plan to provide better
treatment and control of the disease, people’s behavior is changing.
More people are visiting HIV and Aids Service Points that the
government started a year ago. At these stations people are able to
know their HIV status and get free help .
The points provide services such as distribution of condoms, HIV and
Aids information and education, voluntary counseling and testing (VCT)
as well as giving antiretroviral drugs and nutritional supplements.
The government is spending over R1,5 billion on the programme which
also deals with caring, treating and giving support to those infected
and affected by HIV and Aids.
The aim of the plan, which was approved by the Cabinet in November
2003, is to improve the services to people living with HIV and Aids
and those who live with them.
When the programme started its aim was to have at least one unit in
each of the country’s 53 health districts. That has been done and now
the target is at least one service point in half of the 284
“Currently we have already exceeded our target by covering 60% of
municipalities covered with 192 service points especially in the rural
areas,” he said.
Staff includes doctors, counselors, professional nurses, pharmacists,
dieticians, and clerks. The number of staff at a service point depends
on how many people it helps a year.
The programme dealt with amongst other things, prevention of the HI
virus from mother to child, provision of treatment, care and support
VCT, visiting areas where prostitution is high, TB and other HIV
Did you know?
Service Point started distributing antiretrovirals in June 2004. Dr
Ayanda Gasela and Dr Maryet Mogashoa who run the station said they see
about 150 HIV patients a day. “We already have 17 288 adult patients
and 2 682 children since June last year. A few patients have died, but
many have made good recovery. Most of our patients are women because
men do not want to tell their status.
“It is important
to always take tablets and follow all the advice given by the doctor.
While on ARVs, stop drinking alcohol. Do not use the tablets with
other immune system boosters like traditional medicines,” Gasela
At a V.C.T. point
You meet a
counselor who will explain the importance of testing
will then ask you to sign an approval (consent) form to be tested
you wait for the results which could be available the same day or may
take some time
When the results
are out, whether positive or negative, you will be counseled again
depending on your status and you are also told to come for another
test after six months to fully confirm your status
If you have
tested positive, your CD 4 count (the level of the disease in your
blood) is tested, and if it is less than 200, you qualify for
antiretroviral treatment and are therefore sent to a place where
treatment is done if the station does not provide such a service
(TB) test is done because many HIV positive people suffer from TB and
other opportunistic diseases. You will also be introduced to a
support group where you receive counseling and get training on
different life skills like starting your own backyard gardens.
How we did it
Dumisa Mbisi (38)
of Thembisa, Ekurhuleni is a man full of energy. Mbisi is HIV
positive. He is very popular with his jokes and loud laughs with other
patients at a HIV and Aids unit based in Thembisa Hospital.
He is a totally
different person from what he was in January this year Then he used to
hide inside the house because he did not want the community to know
about his HIV status.
“As a man I
thought it will be very stupid of me to make my status known. I could
not walk or talk and my whole body had sores. My mother encouraged me
to join other patients at the clinic. I started in January and was put
on ARVs. Now I am a healthy person again and the community is very
supportive. I want to encourage other men to come forward and stop
dying in hiding,” Mbisi said.