Staff surpass health targets

From left, are TB/HIV Care Association staff Ntoboxolo Moroa, from Khayelitsha clinic; Nosipho Salie, from a mobile clinic; Sindiswa Sitwayi, from Khayelitsha clinic, and Patricia Ntshona, from the Wynberg office.

The TB/HIV Care Association (THCA) held an appreciation ceremony to thank its Cape metro staff for helping to beat targets and testing about two million people since 2007.

At Kensington High School hall, on Friday September 30, Professor Harry Hausler, chief executive officer of THCA, thanked staff who work in a variety of programmes to prevent, test for and treat HIV and TB (tuberculosis), a disease that usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body,

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

The UN Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) has set targets to help end the epidemic, ensuring that 90 percent of all people living with HIV, know their status; 90 percent of those who test positive are on antiretrovirals (ARVs); and that 90 percent of those on ARVs are virally suppressed, meaning the virus is undetectable in their blood.

Professor Hausler said THCA had coupled HIV testing and counselling, screening for TB and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, to provide an integrated service to 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.

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 a lunch and entertainment provided by a band.

Mavis Nonkunzi, a senior social worker at THCA, said that while a lot of work had been done to stem the spread of HIV and TB, more needed to be done to eliminate the stigma that often resulted in patients not seeking treatment and failing to live 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 decide whether they want to live a healthy life and whether they want to raise their children.”

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

Call THCA at 021 692 3027.