Why do we need this project?
HIV and TB are the leading cause of premature death in the Cape Metropole (Western Cape mortality profile, MRC, May 2009). This statistic indicates the great need to address the spread of both HIV/AIDS and TB in the Western Cape, in line with Provincial, National and International goals.
FAMSA’s HIV/TB/STI Lay Counselling Project’s aim is to contribute to the reduction in HIV /AIDS/TB/STIs in the Southern Western District of the Western Cape by providing integrated HCT/Adherence/PMTCT/TB screening/ STI and follow-up services to clients in this geographic service area (GSA). The project endeavours to contribute towards the goal of all people being tested for HIV and TB every year, thereby ensuring early identification of disease. In addition, it aims to promote wellness within the community through:
- Early detection and positive support for PLWH (people living with HIV and AIDS) – By providing Integrated HCT/Adherence/TB/STI /Treatment Readiness, follow-up counselling services.
- Reducing MTCT (mother to child transmission) by offering PMTCT (prevention of mother to child transmission counselling), along with TB screening.
- Prevention of HIV and TB infections - Through educating people regarding HIV and AIDS/TB/STI’s and at-risk behaviours such as multiple and concurrent sexual partners, unsafe sex, and to promote positive alternatives such as condom use, and the distribution there-of (Male and Female), circumcision and in line with FAMSA’s values, to promote gender equality, as gender inequality can be seen as one of the drivers of HIV and AIDS (Provincial Strategic Plan).
- Reducing the defaulter rate for both TB treatment and ART’s (anti retroviral treatment), thereby also preventing the generation of drug-resistant TB. Ensuring that people living with HIV and TB remain within the health care system, are adherent to treatment and maintain optimal health. This should also decrease the number of deaths from HIV and AIDS and TB.
- Increasing health and wellness by offering clients a high quality, holistic and caring service, linking them to community care workers or relevant health staff and referring to other relevant service providers as required.
In addition, FAMSA Western Cape’s goal is to assist the most destitute clients who are taking ART medication by offering interim food relief while they access grant assistance. This will be through the provision of a monthly food parcel for a maximum of 3 months and dependant on availability of funds.
How FAMSA’s HIV project started
In 1993 the FAMSA Community Development Team started to engage in development work in the townships and the official launch of the Family Foundation Project (now called the Community Lay Counselling Project) , which is a project training and supervising lay-counsellors to offer counselling services in disadvantaged areas, took place on the 16th May 1998.
In 1998 to 1999, after receiving training from ATTIC (Aids training and Information Centre), there were two trained HIV & AIDS Lay-Counsellors (originally from the Family Foundation Project), based in Khayelitsha at the Michael Mapongwana Community Health Centre and Zakhele Clinic respectively, funded by the City of Cape Town Health. Pre and Post test counselling was done, as well as health education sessions. By 2001 they were also facilitating support groups at these facilities.
Ten MTCT counsellors were thereafter employed in March 2001 at Vanguard Community Health Centre which served the Bonteheuwel and Langa communities.
Ministers of religion and church workers from independent churches in Khayelitsha shared their concerns about the issue of HIV in the community. Arising out of this, FAMSA as part of its role in the Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS Counselling Task Team in the Metropole, was mandated to also co-ordinate a faith-based response to HIV/AIDS.
Many of the Family Foundation volunteers have since been trained in HCT (HIV counselling and testing), PMTCT (prevention of mother to child transmission) and/or Adherence counselling, and are employed by FAMSA to work at various community Clinics in the Cape Metropole funded by the Department of Health, Western/Southern Sub-district.
The Department of Health has renewed this yearly contract with FAMSA for the past 14 years. And since its first inception, this funded HIV Counsellor Programme has extended and grown to 29 counsellors and 2 Co-ordinators.
The project as it stands today
Presently, our 29 HIV Lay Counsellors offer effective HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT), HIV follow-up counselling, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) counselling, Adherence and TB and STI support counselling services at 11 facilities/clinics in the Western Cape. These clinics are: Cape Town Station, Queen Victoria Clinic, Woodstock Community Health Clinic, Robbie Nurrock Clinic, Groote Schuur Hospital, Chapel Street Clinic, Spencer Road Clinic, Factreton Clinic, Kensington Day Hospital, Brooklyn Chest Hospital and Langa Clinic.
They assist with counselling in the HIV testing process as well as do the rapid finger-prick testing, interpret and provide the results of tests to clients, and thereafter counsel individuals about treatment support and living a positive lifestyle. The counsellors are equipped to render these services as they have received training in HIV and counselling, TB training, finger-prick training, and breastfeeding training etc.
They counsel and support those who are taking anti-retroviral therapies (ART) on an ongoing basis, and they encourage expectant mothers to test and start treatment to prevent HIV transmission to their babies. The Counsellors also facilitate clubs at facilities for clients who taking ARV’s, as well as presenting education and awareness sessions for them. These clubs are run by counsellors and the clinics to fast track patients that are adhering to their treatment.
Our counsellors have also had PMTCT training, and other ATTIC trainings still continue on an ongoing basis for the counsellors’ development.
Feedback from our client feedback forms illustrates positive responses from clients in terms of the services they receive at the health facilities. For example: In the clients own words - the counsellors are described as: "...Good, friendly, helpful, informative, she was asking me about my condition, she explained everything in such a way that I knew which way to go/ start with my life(health), she was marvellous, she’s got a sense of humour and is very down to earth, she is good and friendly- I give her 500%, very friendly, excellent- she is good she explains things so nicely, she has an excellent approach, her services are helpful, informative, welcoming, she knows what she is talking about, her approach is very good, very good and useful, the counsellor should keep it up”.
FAMSA Western Cape is proud of the quality of their services and ensures this through ongoing supervision and mentoring of all the HIV counselling staff.
How can FAMSA help?
HIV testing services can be accessed and a counsellor seen at any one of the Health Clinics mentioned - no appointments are necessary.
For further information please call the HIV Co-ordinators at FAMSA:
9 Bowden Road, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925, Western Cape South Africa
(021) 447 7951