HIV/AIDS Voluntary Screening Taken To Households
By Leocadia Bongben
Cameroonians have been urged to welcome survey teams to their homes and get tested for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B, besides biological examinations carried out in household for free.
This is the essence of the voluntary HIV/AIDS headcount; dubbed Cameroon Population-based HIV Impact Assessment-CAMPHIA which would involve 14,000 households randomly selected through-out the national territory.
Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda launched CAMPHIA on March 13 at the Yaoundé Hilton Hotel in the presence of stakeholders.
CAMPHIA is funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, through the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC and implemented by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, ICAP.
Launching the project, Mama Fouda urged all Cameroonians to welcome the survey teams which will have nurses, laboratory technicians to analyse the blood on the spot, test the viral load-the amount of HIV in the blood and the amount of cells that can fight HIV for those positive and direct them to where they can get treatment.
The survey teams would visit randomly selected households and gather information with their consent. The whole process is voluntary with questions asked, followed by counselling for those positive after tests and results provided the same day.
It is estimated that process would last for about seven months would commence in the days ahead with survey staff trained and ready for the field work.
The Minister reassured the public of the confidentiality of the survey and proper handling of blood according to the public health approved standards.
He underscored the importance of many Cameroonians knowing their status given that the members of a family, father mother and children would be tested.
“There is no need to be scared of knowing your status because this would help to live a responsible life. I would be happy to know my wife or child does not have HIV or Hepatitis B. If carrier of the virus, it is important to get treatment and not wait. One can have HIV without actually getting sick”, he advised.
“It is important for everybody to know their status, and for everybody to get treatment so as to reach the 90-90 90 target where 90 percent Cameroonians would know their status, 90 percent get treatment and 90 percent suppression of viral load by 2020 and eventual elimination of HIV/AIDS”.
In 2014 UNAIDS set the 90-90-90 target, an ambitious treatment three part target to be achieved by 2020.
Given that HIV/AIDS indicators are not available, Mama Fouda, maintained that the survey would help the government know if it is on track since the survey conducted in 2011. HIV/AIDS prevalence according the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, DHS, is pegged at 4.3 percent for adults from 15-49.
The survey would also provide a broader understanding of HIV response at both national and regional level, guide investment, target programmes for with greater risks, and those in need of services most and determine user satisfaction with health systems and policy formulation.