TB/HIV Care staff honoured for surpassing targets

Pictured at the back, from left are counsellors Shehaam Forbes and Euginia Booysen. In front are nurse Hajira Williams, counsellor Joan Bosman, counsellor Marion Majavie and nurse Zimkitha Nonkeneza, from TB/HIV Care Associations Wynberg office.

Professor Harry Hausler, chief executive officer of THCA, thanked staff who work in a variety of programmes aimed at preventing, testing and treating for HIV, a virus that gets into the body and attacks the immune system; and TB (tuberculosis), a disease that usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, at Kensington High School hall, on Friday September 30.

He reviewed the successes of the year and acknowledged the hard work, passion and courage of staff, who often have to work under difficult circumstances to bring support to those in need.

The United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) has set targets to help end the Aids epidemic.

These targets including ensuring that 90 percent of all people living with HIV, should know their status; 90 percent of those who test positive should be on antiretrovirals (ARVs); and that 90 percent of those on ARVs should be virally suppressed, meaning the virus is undetectable in their blood.

Professor Hausler explained that THCA has coupled HIV testing and counselling (HTC), screening for TB and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes to provide an integrated service and help reach the first “90” of the UNAIDS targets.

“TB/HIV Care performed 231 663 tests at mobile clinics and facilities; exceeding the target of 185 492 by 42 percent,” he said.

Teams scaled down to focus on priority districts like Alfred Nzo, Cape Town Metro, Harry Gwala, OR Tambo and Umgungundlovu, from 20 teams to 13 teams.

Twenty-three percent of those tested had never been tested before and 43 percent had not been tested in the past 12 months.

Similarly to stop TB by 2025 goals have been set by the Stop TB partnership.

These goals include reaching 90 percent of all people in key populations, the most vulnerable and at risk populations; and reaching 90 percent treatment success for all people diagnosed with TB.

At the appreciation ceremony, staff employed during the year ending in March received certificates of excellence and all staff were treated to lunch and entertainment provided by a band.

Mavis Nonkunzi, a senior social worker at THCA, told the Plainsman that while a lot of work has been done to stem the spread of HIV and TB, more needed to be done to eliminate the stigma which often results in patients not seeking treatment and living healthy lifestyles.

She said symptoms of TB include appetite loss, chest pains, fatigue, night sweats and fever, ongoing coughing or the coughing up of blood and weight loss.

Ms Nonkunzi said even before patients were diagnosed, their neighbours would already have noticed these symptoms and started “marking” them.

“Because I’ve been marked, I don’t want to go to the clinic,” she said.

“We would like to tell people to take control of their lives.

“They can decide whether they want to live a healthy life and whether they want to raise their children.”

Ms Nonkunzi added: “This is your life. There are other sick people in the community. They go for ARVs at clinics. They live. Why can’t you?”