Project: AIDS Counselling
Area: Health Care
Coordinators: Ntombi Dyasi and Nomkitha Magopeni
Goal: To work in partnership with local clinics providing HIV/AIDS and TB education, testing and follow-up counselling
Description: In the early years of Etafeni the South African Department of Health asked the Centre if it would become one of the national sites to sponsor HIV/AIDS lay counsellors. Today the Lay Counselling Programme, which is fully supported by the Department of Health, thrives at Etafeni. It has two Co-coordinators and 24 trained counsellors who spend their days at eight different Township clinics working as a team with clinic staff.
The lay counsellors receive extensive, ongoing training from the Aids Training and Information Counselling Center (ATICC), which is also funded by the Department of Health. The training prepares them to work with all ages, provides current information on diagnostic techniques and antiretroviral administration, as well as how to provide authentic support to clients.
There are specializations within the cadre of 24 staff members. All are qualified to teach about, test for and counsel clients regarding HIV. In addition, some are trained to provide the same services to people with TB, others in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and still others are skilled in providing anti-retroviral support groups and follow-up to clients diagnosed as HIV+.
Each morning the lay counsellors give an HIV information workshop to all the people waiting at the clinic to see their doctor. The individuals may be there to have their blood pressure checked or with a coughing child or perhaps are already known to be HIV+. The idea is to get the word out about prevention, symptoms, the testing process itself, as well as, the importance of being tested and what to expect if one is found to be positive. The counsellors provide all testing information to the clinic doctors for follow-up. Likewise, the nurses and doctors refer particular patients to the counsellors for testing, antiretroviral support and/or counselling.
The Etafeni Lay Counselling Programme is a partnership that has saved many lives over the years and helped reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
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