HIV test process must be simple as possible

2010-07-10 09:52

Getting tested for HIV is not easy. The possibility that a test may

come back positive creates fear even in the hearts of the brave.

I am a routine tester but I still fear the “dreaded” test.

But there is power and liberty in knowing one’s status while living

in a country and continent where HIV and Aids is running amok.

South Africa had 5.7 million people living with HIV and Aids last

year, ­according to www.avert.org, which also states that almost one-in-three

women aged 25 to 29 are HIV-positive.

Likewise, more than a quarter of men aged 30 to 34 are affected.

This is ­despite efforts by loveLife, health ­ministers past and

present and thousands of silent billboards which preach the message that real

men protect their partners and ­children by not letting their penises run

wild.

We are in trouble.

We need solutions that will turn the tide against the ­enemy and

part of the battle strategy is knowing one’s status.

This is why I love the New

Start ­initiative.

Their offices are in buildings which you can visit without fear of

­being watched or made to feel you’re there for the “dreaded” test. And it costs

less than R30.

Health, home and beauty retailer Clicks has also joined the fight.

I can now get my HIV test while ­buying my lipgloss and

magazines.

But New Start and Clicks must ­beware of missing their mark:

testing must not be bogged down by logistics.

There is only one New Start office in ­Pretoria, which is situated

in the west ­instead of the city centre where it could be ­accessed by

multitudes of people.

This could help decrease the number of Aids orphans in the country

which is estimated at ­between 1.5 million and three ­million.

When I went into Clicks to test drive their government-backed

initiative, I was told I needed an appointment.

I had to wait five days.

“But what if being here, now, is the only moment of courage I can

summon to know my status?” I wailed.

Courage to walk into a testing station should not be met with

rejection.

Having to wait a few days allows fear to grow stronger resulting in

many not returning.

The retailer has provided space for HIV testing, now it needs

allocate more time to it.



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