The HIV patient advocacy and self-help group PIUMA reports outstanding success in the village-based HIV testing drive that it launched in mid-October. 1,850 men and women have come forward for counselling and HIV testing in 16 villages in the Bulongwa aea of Makete District.
PIUMA's nurse-counsellor Mary Musoma and coordinator Jackson Mbogela have worked at a ferocious pace with PIUMA volunteers and village leaders to make this outstanding contribution to the national testing effort announced by President Jakaya Kikwete last summer.
PIUMA held counselling and testing clinics in sixteen villages and also at a local secondary school in Mwakavuta. Makete District is thought to have one of the highest prevalence rates for HIV in all of Tanzania, with estimates of 18-20%. Results from PIUMA testing were encouraging, especially from the secondary school.
Among the 1,850 people tested, 230 were HIV positive, or about 12-13%. About 50% more women than men sought testing. 178 tests were done at the clinic at Mwakavuta Secondary School; only one female tested positive.
In her monthly report on activities, PIUMA nurse-counsellor (and Treasuere of Highalnds Hope of Tanzania) Mary Musoma writes:
The number of villages for the mobile VCT in Nov was 16 villages and one secondary school. Achievements were very good.
People who are positive, they agreed to join the CTC services without delay.
We have supplied condoms, pamphlets about HIV/AIDS and magazines including Si Mchezo.
1) The rain is still raining so the road is very rough.
2) We need other nurses to work together.
3) Some villages have not been tested in the area, so it would be good if next time we started with those villages.
PIUMA is committed to increase village-based testing and home-based care services and has called on the Government of Tanzania to grant it a licence to operate full CTC services (dispensing ARV drugs and monitoring CD4 counts) on a mobile platform.