PopArt clinics celebrate retention of patients

2015-09-10 06:00
Dr Vivian de Azevedo (left) and other staff members celebrated their achievment  at Luvuyo Community Day Centre, on Thursday, in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.

Mbongiseni Maseko

Dr Vivian de Azevedo (left) and other staff members celebrated their achievment at Luvuyo Community Day Centre, on Thursday, in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

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The Luvuyo Community Day Centre was the centre of jubilation as it celebrated a milestone in patient and staff efforts on fighting the onset of the HIV disease in the area.

The clinic is one of three centres, in the city that participate in Population Effects of Antiretroviral Therapy to Reduce HIV Transmission (PopART HPTN 071) trial.

PopART is a randomised community trial in nine South African communities, investigating whether a community-wide combination of HIV prevention package will help to prevent transmission and substantially reduce new HIV infections.

Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for health, said it is the biggest achievement that Luvuyo, Kuyasa and Town Two Community Day Centres have all excelled in maintaining the number of patients in the project.

They have accounted for about 6 780 patients as at the end of May this year.

Mamkeli said it is high time people took their “health very seriously”, as much as they go all out fighting for service deliveries.

“If you knowingly spread HIV you must know that you are a murderer. These achievements speak to a commitment and buy-in from everyone involved, in particular our patients who have stayed the course.

By doing so, they are not only ensuring their own health and well-being, but also serving as shining examples to others that HIV/Aids can be managed with commitment and the right support structures in place,” he said.

To date, the PopART trial has helped in a number of ways, including the fact that 72 Community HIV Care Providers (CHIPs) have been employed in the Luvuyo and Kuyasa communities to visit each home once a year and offer an HIV test to each member of that household. By offering household HIV testing within all homes in the surrounding communities, many more people have taken the test, thus becoming aware of their HIV status.

All those who are diagnosed with HIV are referred to the local clinic for a full assessment, including a CD4 count and the presence of co-morbidities

The enrolment on ARV treatment has increased significantly with many new clients diagnosed HIV positive who meet the qualifying criteria

In the case of Luvuyo Clinic, any person diagnosed HIV positive is offered the opportunity to start antiretroviral therapy (ART) regardless of their CD4 count. Early ART initiation is known to improve the disease prognosis

Three different approaches in dealing with the HIV/Aids epidemic are being tested in the various sites and, over a period of five years, it should be able to compare the level of success achieved in the fight against HIV/Aids.

Academic partners will then be able to submit hard evidence to support policy development in countries with similar backgrounds and burden of disease.

Dr Vivian de Azevedo, said she was “very proud” of the staff at the facility as they always perform well to ensure that the research is on point.

“A lot has changed in this small community. It is now working on a broader scale than before and it offers more services. We hoping to put more patience on treatment,” Azevedo said.

Dr Francoise Louis, said the achievement is one of the things that make Luvuyo centre a “supper clinic.”

“We do great things here. We give ARVs to residents no matter the level of their CD4 Count which is beneficiary to the patience. The research started last year and now we see about 5 000 consultants per month. This is a huge achievement. It is important to get tested for HIV because then you get treatment there and there. To be HIV positive means you must take one tablet per day. It brings back life,” Louis said

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