10 April 2017, MASVINGO - The Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF)'s war on Aids in children was extended to Masvingo after the foundation partnered the Ministry of Health and Child Care to train nurses on new HIV testing guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Last week, EGPAF provided financial and technical support for a series of training workshops at Masvingo General Hospital where machinery capable of one-stop-shop CD4 count and viral load tests has been installed.
Nurses from the districts were trained on new Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT) measures as well as on ways to fight opportunistic infections with the emphasis being retesting of pregnant mothers who would have tested positive for HIV.
"The idea is to verify the veracity of HIV test results so that when we say somebody is HIV positive, we are really sure that they are indeed positive before we put them on treatment," said EGPAF's Dr Tichaona Nyamundaya.
The improved algorithms for producing correct results require that there be two consecutive similar results for one to be classified as HIV positive.
"The emphasis lies on verifying results and putting people on treatment early regardless of one's CD4 count. In the past, one would have to wait for visible symptoms to manifest before they could be put on anti-retroviral treatment but we have now moved from immune restoration to immune preservation because restoration can be very difficult," said Dr Nyamundaya.
Provincial FCH TB/Aids Medical Officer, Dr Kudzai Masinire praised EGPAF for its commitment to the fight against paediatric Aids saying the efforts were in line with the country's health aspirations.
"We recognise that the body of knowledge on HIV has continued to grow so we have to capacitate our health workers and acquaint them with the new guidelines through the help of our partners like Elizabeth Glaser. This complements government efforts to improve access to treatment," said Dr Masinire.
The point of care viral load machinery is critical for monitoring patients and making sure that their viral load is durably suppressed. All tests can now be done locally and there is no longer need to send specimens to labs in Harare.health