Zambia to Benefit from Project to Expand Access to HIV Self-Testing:
Dec, 1st — Zambia is among 3 African countries to benefit from a two-year evaluation project to conduct self-administered HIV testing. The project will be led by Population Services International (PSI) in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, University College London and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and funded by UNITAID.
The HIV self-testing models will be piloted among different populations in Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In Zambia, Zambart, one of the leading indigenous research groups supporting healthcare advances in HIV and TB, will be among the implementing partners to conduct the evaluation of these test kits. Over the course of the project, nearly 750,000 self-test kits will be distributed. The HIV self-testing evaluation is the world’s largest yet and is expected to accelerate access to HIV testing through simple HIV self-tests. The initiative aims to dramatically shift the paradigm of HIV testing in Africa.
An estimated 19 million people globally do not know they are living with HIV, and without knowledge of their status, individuals cannot access life-saving HIV care and treatment. To close this gap, UNITAID is investing $23 million to accelerate HIV testing through simple HIV self-tests in three high burden countries sub- Saharan African countries over the next two years.
These pilots will generate crucial information about how to distribute self-test products effectively, ethically and efficiently, and will answer key questions about the feasibility, acceptability and impact of this intervention. The project will use these results, and other emerging evidence, to support the establishment of appropriate policy and to encourage new manufacturers to enter the self-test market.
At the end of two years, the self-test market will be poised to dramatically increase access to HIV testing and impact HIV prevention, care and treatment goals.
It was a stylish end of year for the Zambart BHOMA (Better Health Outcomes through Mentoring and Assessment) project staff. A fun-filled afternoon fest spent gazing at the sun-set on the Kafue River amid laughter and the rhythm of the drum-beating as the boat cruised lazily along the river.
It is not often that the entire BHOMA team is ever together in one place, so it was a great time to relax and re-connect with colleagues who spent long months in the field in the different districts where the project has sites. BHOMA Principal Investigator and Zambart Coordinator Dr. Helen Ayles, and Finance Manager Frank Mbozi also found time to join the team on their cruise.
Reflecting on milestones and achievements by the team, Dr. Ayles commended them for putting the event together all on their own. “This was definitely a good idea, it came from the team and they worked it out all on their own to make it happen. It shows commitment from staff, and when teams do something like that you want to support them. That’s the way it should be,” she said.
Dr. Ayles also commended the BHOMA team for their zeal and get-it-done work attitude which yielded success for the project. “These people are in the field most of the time and spend a lot of time away from their homes and usually don’t sleep in fancy, cosy places.”
She also noted that the BHOMA team had worked very well and pleasantly surprised them with the announcement that they would be offered new contracts for 2014.
Giving a vote of thanks Nixon Handima, congratulated his fellow team members for remaining undaunted by the challenges encountered and making effort to get their work done. Handima urged the team to return for work in 2014 with even greater zeal to work and perform well in their duties.