Testing at home
In Lesotho, SolidarMed is testing HIV care at home. Our findings convince the experts and improve patient care.
HIV/Aids is a heavy burden in Lesotho
Lesotho is one of countries most severely affected by HIV. The infection rate is one of the highest in the world, with one in four adults carrying the virus. SolidarMed is fighting the epidemic in the remote villages of the highlands.
The number of new HIV infections is reduced.
The population in the highlands of Lesotho. Every fourth adult is infected with HIV.
Home-based HIV testing is accepted, the number of new HIV infections is decreased.
HIV drugs are effective enough today to stop the HIV epidemic. But the best therapy is of little use if those affected cannot easily access it. In mountainous Lesotho, the nearest clinic is several hours' walk or an expensive taxi ride away. In response, SolidarMed is testing the simplest and best way to reach and treat people with HIV.
In the two districts of Butha Buthe and Mokhotlong, SolidarMed visits remote villages with specially trained teams. People are offered an HIV test at home and can start antiretroviral therapy immediately if needed.
People with HIV who are in treatment can lead a fairly normal life and are no longer infectious to their partners or unborn children.
By offering self-testing in remote villages of both districts, the SolidarMed teams also reach young people, men and migrant workers. If they had to make the long and arduous journey to the nearest health centre, they would all too often not let themselves be tested.
Treatment begins the same day
Those testing positive can start antiretroviral therapy the same day. Initial evaluations have shown that by offering home-based tests and an immediate start to therapy, SolidarMed reaches 25 percent more patients.
Every year, SolidarMed measures how many HIV viral particles remain in a patients' blood. If this number is low, it means the treatment is working. It also means that the risk of infecting others is very low too. Successful treatment is also prevention. This leads to a lasting reduction in the number of new infections.
«The World Health Organisation estimates that 15'000 people were newly infected with HIV in 2017 alone. Lesotho's infection rate of 23,8 % is one of the highest worldwide.»
Niklaus Labhardt, President of SolidarMed
HIV patients are more susceptible to tuberculosis as well. To prevent this disease from becoming life-threatening for those affected, SolidarMed trains the staff in the health facilities.
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