ICAP News - October 2008

Health Care Workers Living with HIV Come Together for the First Time in Kenya
In a groundbreaking meeting at Kikoko Hospital in Kenya’s Eastern Province, a group of 15 health care workers living with HIV came together in September to discuss their experiences in coping with secrecy about their status, stigma on the job, and the unmet HIV care and treatment needs of health care workers.

The ICAP-supported meeting was the culmination of a six-month effort by two nurses living with HIV, Susan Kimani and Nelly Mugo, who have been reaching out to other health care workers living with HIV and sensitizing staff at health facilities in Central and Eastern Provinces. In their activities, the nurses have emphasized the need to support colleagues living with HIV and for the latter to obtain HIV services for their own health.

“This is the first time I have attended such a meeting,” said a community nurse from Central Province. “I am pleased to see that there are others with the same problems as me.”

ICAP is seeking to strengthen services for health care workers and civil servants with HIV. Two facilities are undergoing renovation with the goal of providing comprehensive services for such individuals, with particular attention to their unique needs.

Photo caption: Health care workers with HIV in Kenya celebrate their first support group meeting.

For more about ICAP Kenya, visit here.

Residential Mentorship Program Enables Health Care Providers in Kenya to Deliver HIV Services
Teams of health care providers in Kenya are learning the practical aspects of comprehensive HIV care and treatment through an innovative ICAP-supported residential mentorship program at Thika District Hospital.

Each month, six health care workers from facilities around the country spend a week in intensive training provided by a multidisciplinary team of mentors at the hospital’s comprehensive care center. Participants gain hands-on experience in pediatric and adult HIV care and treatment in a clinical setting and build a deeper understanding of the intricacies of supportive laboratory and pharmacy services. The program compliments didactic training that all participants have already completed as a pre-requisite for selection to the residential mentorship program.

“By the end of the week, participants leave with a greater sense of confidence in their abilities to start up HIV care and treatment services at their own facilities,” said ICAP-Kenya Country Director Mark Hawken, MD. “The goal is to build a sustainable and flourishing mentorship program that will contribute to the expansion of HIV care and treatment in Kenya.”

For more about ICAP Kenya, visit here.

HIV Testing Rates Increase Markedly at Ethiopia Sites Under Point-of-Service System
In an effort to make HIV testing more accessible, ICAP-supported sites in Ethiopia have implemented simplified point-of-service HIV rapid testing systems that enables an individual to get an HIV test and receive the results in a single visit.

At Adama Hospital, HIV testing was previously only performed at the central laboratory. Under the point-of-service system, rapid testing is available at eight service sites in the hospital, which significantly reduces the workload on the central laboratory and patient waiting times. In the first year of implementation of point-of-service testing, the number of patients who obtained an HIV test at the hospital more than tripled while the number of individuals enrolled in HIV care and treatment more than doubled.

ICAP has supported the introduction of point-of-service rapid testing at 31 hospitals and 13 health centers across the Oromia, Harari, Dire Dawa and Somali Regions of Ethiopia. At all of these sites, nearly all who come to these facilities can easily obtain an HIV test.

“HIV testing can now be provided to patients 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week,” said Bereket H/Giorgis, MD, ICAP-Ethiopia’s laboratory advisor. “This is especially beneficial to pregnant women who may arrive in labor after working hours or on weekends.”

Photo caption: A nurse administers a rapid HIV test to a patient at Adama Hospital.

For more about ICAP Ethiopia, visit here.

United for Risk Reduction and HIV/AIDS Prevention Targets Injection Drug Users in Zanzibar
HIV prevalence among injection drug users in Zanzibar is estimated at nearly 27 percent or nearly 45 times higher than the overall rate on the island. To reduce the risk of HIV infection among this group, ICAP, in collaboration with three non-governmental organizations in Zanzibar, recently implemented a program called URRAP – United for Risk Reduction and HIV/AIDS Prevention. The program uses existing community support networks for injection drug users, including peer educators and outreach workers, to link users with comprehensive HIV/AIDS services, including voluntary counseling and testing and care and treatment, as well as services for management of sexually transmitted infections.

“The program is designed to coordinate existing outreach services for injection drug users with HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs,” said ICAP-Tanzania Country Director Amy Cunningham. “Our partners have deep knowledge of their communities and local contexts, while ICAP brings experience in supporting the scale-up of high-quality HIV/AIDS service programs.”

In addition to conducting needs assessments, ICAP has supported a series of workshops for its partner organizations focused on strengthening knowledge about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, counseling and testing techniques, treatment adherence, and risk reduction. A family-focused approach is emphasized to ensure injection drug users, their partners, and children are all linked to HIV and substance use services, as needed. Other workshops focus on building skills in data collection and the use of information to guide program development.

For more about ICAP Tanzania, visit here.

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Surveys Roll Out of HIV Services in Rural Tanzania
On Sept. 23, Mark Dybul, MD, U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, visited ICAP-supported Chalinze and Mlandizi Health Centers to observe the scale up of HIV services in rural Tanzania. At both facilities, Dybul met with providers and clients who detailed their experiences and insights about the services and programs. Among the highlights were testimonials by HIV-positive pregnant women who participate in a family support group at Chalinze Health Center. At Mlandizi Health Center, Dybul learned about the challenges encountered during the recent initiation of comprehensive HIV/AIDS services. A new treatment center is being renovated at the facility, which will significantly enhance the services provided.

For more about ICAP Tanzania, visit here.

Photo caption: U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul, MD (left), and Joseph Chintowa, MD, ICAP regional manager for Pwani, at Mlandizi Health Center.

Lesotho Workshop Focuses on Strengthening Adherence and Psychosocial Support Services at District Hospital
In a three-day workshop in September, a multidisciplinary team of 15 HIV care providers from ICAP-supported Mafeteng District Hospital in Lesotho examined strategies and tools to strengthen adherence and psychosocial support services for both adults and children.

The workshop, supported by ICAP in collaboration with the Mafeteng District Health Management Team, combined practicum sessions with group activities on topics such as counseling and communication and community linkages. Based on their work together, participants developed specific plans to strengthen adherence and psychosocial support services at the hospital.

“The workshop showed me the importance of listening to clients about their fears and concerns,” said one participant, “and treating everyone with the respect they deserve.”

ICAP staff will continue working with the providers to provide on-site mentorship and supportive supervision. Similar workshops are planned at other ICAP-supported district hospitals and filter clinics in Lesotho.

Photo caption: Health care providers from Mafeteng District Hospital discuss strategies and tools for strengthening adherence and psychosocial support services.

For more about ICAP Lesotho, visit here.