Care & Support
Through our programs, in partnership with the South Africa Department of Health, we work to increase early identiﬁcation and referral of newly diagnosed people living with HIV into care and support programs. Our goal is to improve the retention rate of the newly diagnosed in support programs from the time of diagnosis until the maintenance of consistent, long-term antiretroviral treatment suppresses the virus. Our programs help to improve the quality of care and ensure patients receive support every step along the way. We work to strengthen the active engagement of people living with HIV, family members, health care providers and communities in the continuum of care and support. We also integrate mental health services in routine HIV/AIDS care and treatment.
Through I ACT, our Care & Support curriculum, we work with groups of people newly diagnosed with or living with HIV, to increase their knowledge, skills, and confidence to access support and become advocates for their health. Over six sessions these groups cover the following topics:
- Know your disease
- Treatment options, medications and what to expect
- Build a support network and how to disclose your HIV positive status
- Nutrition, self-care and mental health
- Prevention and risk reduction, living a positive life and planning for your future
Following completion of these group sessions, we provide continued support by enrolling the participants in adherence clubs. These clubs provide a medication pick-up point, an education point to continue to learn about the disease and healthcare options, and a supportive community of people who are at various stages of treatment.
For Children and Adolescents
South Africa Partners worked with Zoe-Life, to adapt the existing “Kidz Alive” pediatric HIV training curriculum to better align with I ACT. Kidz Alive I ACT supports children living with HIV/AIDS and health care providers who work in pediatric clinics. The Kidz Alive I ACT program includes wellness days and holiday clubs for children and caregivers, caregiver support groups, school-based wellness programs for educators, and training and mentoring for health care workers, nurses and doctors.
In 2014, we also worked with the Witwatersrand University Reproductive Health and HIV Institute to adapt and customize the curriculum for adolescent participants. Adolescents are largely under-served in the health sector and are typically a hard-to-reach population with very distinctive needs. Because of this, we felt it was important to adapt I ACT’s core curriculum to create the Adolescent I ACT Program. The Adolescent Program has seven group sessions that cover:
- Learning about HIV, AIDS and infections including TB
- Treatment options and adherence
- Acceptance and how to disclose your HIV status
- Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV Transmission
- Nutrition and Self-care, including mental health and substance abuse prevention
- HIV Prevention and Risk Reduction
- Moving forward and living a positive life
National Implementation and the National Adherence Guidelines
In 2015, I ACT was adopted as a national care and support strategy by the South African National Department of Health and included as a strategy in the National Adherence Guidelines for Chronic Diseases (tuberculosis, HIV and non-communicable diseases).
Today, South Africa Partners supports the implementation of the National Adherence Guidelines for Chronic Diseases and the national monitoring and evaluation system. We provide technical assistance and support for the development and implementation of key aspects of HIV/AIDS care and support services in South Africa. We also train implementation partners on the National Adherence Guidelines for Chronic Diseases which includes our I ACT curriculum. To date our trainings have reached 6,036 facilitators in 8 Provinces.
For Correctional Service Facilities
South Africa has more than 158,000 offenders who are at great risk for HIV and related infections. While the socio-economic backgrounds of the incarcerated often mirror that of other high-risk groups, the correctional facility setting further exacerbates the risk of HIV transmission. An environment of high-risk sexual activity, men having sex with men in relationships, both coercive and consensual, is highly common. Other HIV risk factors within prisons include sexual assault, overcrowding, gang culture, and contaminated cutting instruments. To educate about the transmission of HIV, we created a prevention strategy that helps offenders and staff members in correctional services facilities overcome stigma and choose to get tested to stop the stop the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.
This program aims to sensitize officials, offenders and other members of the correctional service facilities on issues related to men having sex with men, sexuality and sexual violence, gender norms, women having sex with women, and substance dependence. We also provide mentorship and technical assistance to ensure implementation of prevention programs. A key part of this program is if an offender or correctional service facilities staff tests positive for HIV they are placed into a care and support program in line with the National Adherence Guidelines for Chronic Diseases. We have implemented these programs at 8 South African correctional facilities to ensure that 10,379 offenders, detainees and staff were screened for HIV and tuberculosis.
For Out of School Adolescent Girls
We are an implementation partner of DREAMS, which is a PEPFAR program. The goal of DREAMS is to help girls develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women. Despite considerable progress in the global response to HIV/AIDS, AIDS is still the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. In South Africa the number of new annual infections is estimated to be 469,000 of which 113,000 occur among girls and young women aged 15 to 24.
Through the DREAMS program we work to increase the number of adolescent girls and young women who undergo HIV counseling and testing and increase the number of adolescent girls and young women who use contraceptive methods by providing sexual and reproductive health education. As of June 2017, 5,366 adolescent girls and women underwent HIV counseling and testing, and 5,004 adolescent girls and women were provided with sexual and reproductive health education.