“Sis Dudu knocked on my door at home last year. If it wasn’t for her, I would be sick now,” says Hlengiwe Nkosi, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2022. “I wasn’t sick then, but Sis Dudu explained why I should still test. She counseled me, but it was my decision to test. I am so glad I did.”
Dudu Ngomane is a Right to Care linkage to care officer working in Ehlanzeni, a rural area in Mpumalanga, South Africa. She says, “Before Hlengiwe tested, I counseled her and then asked her what she would do if she was positive. She had time to think about it.”
The community refers to her as Sis Dudu. “I go door-to-door. We talk about health and then HIV,” she says.
Nkosi explains, “After I tested positive, Sis Dudu asked me if I understood the results. I said yes. I went to the nearby Driekoppies clinic the next day and she was waiting for me. The nurse made a file for me, took blood, and gave me treatment. My CD4 count was very low. Every month, I collect my treatment. I will have my viral load test soon.”
Nkosi teaches at a pre-primary school and loves working with the little children. She says young girls in the community fear HIV and don’t like going to clinics. “This door-to-door is working. Sis Dudu and her colleagues must carry on doing this work.” She adds, “As long as you take your treatment, living with HIV doesn’t change your life. I am not afraid to tell people I am positive, and I asked my partner to test.”
Ngomane is dedicated to helping the people in her community, “I explain the importance of the treatment for those that test positive and tell those who test negative about PrEP,” she says.
The clinic recently exceeded two of UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets with over 95 percent of patients that the facility serves aware of their HIV status and over 95 percent virally suppressed. Currently, 92 percent of people the clinic serves that know their HIV status are on antiretroviral treatment, so it is well on its way to reaching the second 95 percent.
“Right to Care is a U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded, USAID implementing partner under the Accelerating Program Achievements to Control the Epidemic (APACE) grant in South Africa.“