In the wake of World Aids Day, the Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) in partnership with specific private pharmacies will be expanding its health service offering to include HIV counselling and Testing (HCT), in addition to family planning, at ‘iKapa Cares’ outlets in the province.
“This programme is an initiative between the provincial government and private sector to ensure that the population of the Western Cape has increased access to services and awareness in healthcare.
"The goal is to avail necessary resources to our patient pools to ensure better experiences in receiving vital health care tools,” says Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of Department.
“HCT is an important service as it is a vital part in encouraging people to know their status."
Read: HIV testing guidelines
The private partners already render family planning and baby immunisation services on behalf of the department.
"The addition of HCT is integral to ensuring accessibility and education awareness so that people can know their status,” continues Engelbrecht.
These private pharmacies, will be branded as ‘iKapa Cares’ outlets and will have trained nursing sisters who will provide this confidential service using quality supplies made available by the department.
The test will cost no more than R60. This initiative seeks to reach out to the ordinary person who cannot afford private healthcare, but is not in a position to take a day off work to access primary services.
Read: Why you should get tested
CareWorks provided HCT training to the nursing sisters. Tercia Ford, a nurse from Dischem who participated in the training, said: “In the private sector people are all about the instantaneous service."
"They want to come in immediately, and they want to be out immediately.
"So, how much time you actually need to invest when you are talking to the client would be the biggest thing that I learnt.
“Of course your main objective is to provide a service and also a quality service."
Read: Pre- and post- HIV test counselling
A course like this just improves that, and it’s great to be able to not turn anybody away and to be able to say look there is this service.
"In the private sector there are limitations as to what we are able to provide and this just enables us to reach more people,” says Ford.
Kathy Searle, another nurse from Dischem who underwent the training, said: “I think that the future idea of HIV counselling and testing coming into the pharmacies, the availability for clients and the convenience, is really exciting.
"I think it’s a perfect opportunity to educate people to make informed decisions and to help them stay healthy.
Read: Testing for HIV
"I think the more people who understand and are aware of HIV and Aids and the difference between the two, how they can stay healthy and still live a normal life even if they are HIV positive – gives people hope.
“One of the department’s overarching values is responsiveness. This initiative is a response to the needs of South Africans in improving their lives and adding value to their health care needs,” concludes Engelbrecht.
The service will launch on World AIDS Day (1 December 2015), and will be rolled out at 18 private partner sites such as, Pick ‘n Pay, Dischem, Alphapharm and selected private pharmacies in the City of Cape Town, with the hope of expanding that access over the next 12 months.
For more details about the cost and details of your closest iKapa Cares outlet, send a free ‘please call me’ to 079 035 5861.
Qualities of an effective counsellor
Text messages to raise HIV awareness
Campaign results in major boost for Cape Town HIV testing