In the past, community outreaches targeting mainly pregnant women and the general population were confronted with issues around client’s (pregnant women) late or even refusal to access services, for timely intervention following referrals. Consequently, several identified HIV positive pregnant women were lost on transit, as most of them did not get to the referred health facilities for intervention. To address this situation, the ‘’test to treat ‘’ approach was extended to cover all community outreaches. This has to a large extent reduced the number of positive pregnant women identified through community outreaches that are lost on transit.
Mrs Attracta Ogugua an ECEWS volunteer in Isiala Mbano local Government areas, Imo state, who is currently providing HTC services through community outreaches targeting mainly pregnant women and other general population confirms the efficacy of the test to treat approach. According to her,
“…when pregnant women are tested and found positive getting them to access services through referrals to health facilities was usually a challenge, due to refusal of these clients to go for such referrals.”
Stigma and related discrimination against people living with HIV is militating against the HIV and AIDS fight, as many PLHIV are reluctant about going to health facilities for fear of stigmatization. The test to treat approach has to a large extent addressed issues of delayed access to care and treatment services. A beneficiary of this service Mrs. Stella Israel who is currently on prophylaxis would have opted out of this service but for the timely intervention of the community volunteer. According to Stella,
“I was unwilling to collect the referral letter to the health center, but when nurse gave me the drugs after counselling on how to use the drugs and the likely side effect, which according to her will be for a short time, I took the drug and have since been on it.’’
Through this effort, 90% HIV positive pregnant women identified through community outreaches have been put on prophylaxis.
The ECEWS’ LOCATE Project is funded by the United State President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).