By Thys Khiba
Phuthaditjhaba – The Free State department of health has appointed 247 Lay Counsellors to implement HIV self-screening as one of the modalities targeting men, other key populations, and workplaces. This is in response to deal with the high burden of HIV, and all public health facilities in the province are to offer HIV Counselling and Testing Services and initiate all HIV- positive patients on ART in accordance with the Universal Test and Treat strategy. “All people who test positive are initiated on treatment on the same day. A total of 451 434 people have been tested for HIV and 26 715 initiated on ARV treatment,” said The MEC for health, Montsheng Tsiu. Health MEC Tsiu confirms that all patients remaining in care has improved to 291 070 as at the end of December 2020. According to the MEC for health, her department’s performance towards the 90/90/90 strategy (90% of the people living with HIV must be tested, 90% of those that tested HIV-positive must be initiated and retained on treatment, and 90% of those on treatment must be virally supressed) has been hailed by the National Department of Health, with Thabo Mofutsanyana being the only district in the country that has achieved all its 90/90/90 targets. The Free State department of health is expected to continue with the implementation of the 90/90/90 Strategy to improve the overall HIV&AIDS program outcomes. “Combination strategies are implemented in the province to try and reduce the rate of new infections, strategies implemented are health education on risky sexual behaviour, provision of both male and female condoms.” Meanwhile, Tsiu indicates that 39,363 million male condoms and 812 500 female condoms were distributed. According to the MEC for health, the Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing Distribution network will continue to be used to ensure stable patients receive their medication. It is reported that 184 626 clients were registered on CCMDD and 103 939 of them are active on CCMDDs. A Men’s Health Clinic pilot project is expected to be implemented in each district, with one health facility per district as a start. “The total number of 255 public health facilities offering ART Services maintained to ensure accessibility to the HIV Program.” A target of testing a total of 646 918 peopleand initiating 41 512 eligible clients on treatment is some of the plans that the MEC for health wants to achieve. The program will ensure that a total of 351 834 clients will remain in care.