When the UNAIDS declared the 90-90-90 targets: 90% of people knowing their HIV status, 90% of people with HIV initiated on treatment, and 90% of people achieving viral suppression by 2020, national governments and organisations have come with different strategies towards achieving these targets.
With support from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Maryland partnership, CIDRZ is implementing index testing and partner notification, a strategy aimed at closing the gap to achieving the first 90%.
As a key partner for the Zambian Ministry of Health, CIDRZ has been supplementing government’s efforts towards attaining these goals through capacity building and health system strengthening activities.
CIDRZ trained 160 volunteers from various health facilities in Lusaka, in communications skills needed to conduct index testing.
During the training, CDC Public Health Specialist, Kennedy Nkwemu said “Index Testing focuses on improving the wellbeing of people living with HIV (PLHIV). The strategy is one of the priorities for PEPFAR in order for Zambia to achieve the 90-90-90 goals. Zambia is doing well with the second 90, but there is need to improve on the first 90, and this is where index testing comes in.”
Mary Mwapa, a Volunteer from Matero clinic said, “The skills and information I have acquired from this training vital and useful to my work. I am Grateful to CIDRZ and its partners for this opportunity.”
Index testing is a voluntary process where counsellors or health care workers ask a newly diagnosed HIV positive individual or an HIV positive individual already accessing HIV treatment to list all of their sexual or injecting drug partners, and children. With consent from the individual who is HIV positive, each listed partner and child is contacted, informed that they have been exposed to HIV, and offered voluntary HIV testing services. Index testing is consensual, confidential, and includes counselling, correct test results and connection to treatment or prevention services.