Lobatse DHMT in collaboration with District Multisectoral AIDS Committee (DMSAC) DMSAC would be hosting a couple’s dinner on February 28, 2019 at Lobatse Civic Hall.
In an interview with this publication, Lobatse DHMT public relations officer Thabo Mosetlhi said they have an annual campaign where couples are encouraged to test for HIV together.
However, he explained that this year, the campaign started at a slow pace in January as only a few couples got tested for the virus.
Things got better as more couples started testing all thanks to the campaign teams who went knocking on people’s doors encouraging them to test. “There are two teams that are spread through the town and surrounding areas, being health promotion and other staff from other facilities and units, as well as the partners namely BOCCAIP and Tebelopele coordinated through DMSAC and MoHW PMTCT Mobilisation programme.
We targeted 100 couples and so far about 80 couples have been tested,” he said.
Mosetlhi, he said if couple could test together they would be able to make the right health decisions depending on their status.
There are many potential benefits to supporting couples to test together for HIV infection and to mutually disclose their HIV status most importantly, that together they can then make informed decisions about HIV prevention and reproductive health, including contraception and conception.
He said those benefits are relevant for all couples, whether they have the same HIV test results (HIV seroconcordant) or have different results (HIV serodiscordant). The findings of many published studies suggest that people who learn their HIV status are more likely to adopt preventive behaviours than people who are unaware of their HIV status. Furthermore, he said couples who test together and mutually disclose their HIV status are more likely than those testing alone to adopt behaviours to protect their partner.
In addition, Mosetlhi said in a discordant couple the provision of ART to the positive partner can significantly decrease the risk of transmission to the negative partner, or, potentially, the provision of antiretrovirals (ARV) to the negative partner termed pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can help to prevent HIV acquisition. “Another potential benefit of couples testing together and sharing their results is that they can support each other, if one or both partners are HIV-positive, to access and adhere to ART and interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV,” he said. The World Health Organisation is telling couples around the world to get tested together to see if either is infected with HIV. It states that if one of them is positive, that partner should start treatment with anti-HIV drugs even if it is not yet medically necessary. The invited guests include DHMT officials, community leaders and other stakeholders of about 100 people.