USAID provides antiretrovirals (ART) to most of the Southern African population that need them. Through the provision of free antiretrovirals, HIV patients who are adhering to their daily regimen are able to live full lives and plan for the future.
However, many people across South Africa are unaware of their HIV status, and are in some case, too nervous to take the test. If they do develop the courage, then they often fail to return for their repeat appointment to commence treatment and instead, ignore their diagnosis or spiral into depression.
With Right to Care’s new Test and Treat model, patients are now tested, counselled and initiated on treatment all on the same day. This provides immediate reassurance and a sense of hope to those receiving their diagnosis, and avoids the all-too-common loss to follow-up that occurs when patients instead have to return at a later date for treatment initiation. Showing patients that treatment is readily available, and that their lives can continue as normal, is a powerful way of improving medication adherence in the long term.
Landscaper, Meshack Phiri, has only known his HIV status since February 2020. He says, “I decided to get tested after my girlfriend took the test. I was afraid at first and wanted to deny that I’d be positive, but when I went to the Right to Care testing facility, they carefully explained how knowing whether you are positive or negative is important to protect yourself and others. After testing positive, I started treatment immediately – that same day. I haven’t had any health issues and I’ve been able to continue my business with no difficulties at all.”
The ‘Test and Treat’ same-day initiation model has proved to be powerful in many countries across the world, and with USAID’s commitment to supplying ARVs to those who need them, the 95-95-95 targets seem well within reach.