We cannot create an AIDS free future if those who are positive go untreated or untested for HIV.Yet there are still millions of people around the world infected with the virus who do not yet know their status. To help overcome this, we fund a number of programmes that provide greater access to health services for people living with HIV/AIDS, to offer them the chance to protect themselves and others. Kheth'Impilo (KI) – a South African based organisation – is leading one such programme.
South Africa has more than 5.6 million people living with HIV today - the largest HIV epidemic in the world. Each year, 380,000 people become newly infected with HIV, with almost half of them unaware of their status having never been tested. In 2011, the South African Government launched a four year National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB. Its goal is to engage with 80% of people living with HIV/AIDS, to put them on treatment, and to reduce the number of new HIV infections overall by 50%. To alleviate the strain on congested urban hospitals, the supply of antiretroviral treatment (ART) for stable patients will move to local health clinics across South Africa - many of which have no pharmacy, dispensary or pharmaceutical support to administer ART.
Kheth'Impilo supports the South African Government in achieving its goals to expand quality HIV services in areas of high HIV infection in South Africa through the development of the pharmaceutical support services available for people living with HIV/AIDS. Funding goes towards training and placing mid-range pharmaceutical assistants in local clinics, offering them correct mentoring and supervision to test and treat people living with HIV, meeting the demand to have more people HIV tested.
The current progress has allowed for 28 pharmaceutical assistants to support 36 health centres. By the end of the programme, almost 50 pharmaceutical assistants will be fully trained, leading to 100 local centres having pharmaceutical assistants in place to administer HIV treatment. Currently over 42,000 people have been reached through this expansion.
By the end of the programme, we hope there will be enough support for up to 100,000 additional people to receive regular treatment at supported clinics – people who previously would not have received treatment otherwise. There are also 453 prospective assistants in training, with 280 of them who will have qualified to full post-basic pharmaceutical standard by the end of the programme.
The access to HIV treatment, support services and advice to people at risk of HIV are critical elements in the AIDS response and a step closer to our goals of no more HIV infections. Every person put on ART reduces their infection rate by 96%, greatly reducing the risk of passing on the virus.
Hillary Clinton visited South Africa last year and learnt about the pharmaceutical assistant programme being rolled out in provincial areas of the country and praised it for its innovation. You can watch a video of a part of her visit here.
You can also watch this video about the progress Kheth’Impilo has made in supporting people living with HIV across South Africa here.
And a first hand account by one of the trainee pharmaceutical assistants who are inducted into the programme who talks about how the programme has helped change his life, provide for his siblings and give something back to the community he lives in. You can watch it here.