Universal Test and Treat
What is Universal Test and Treat?
Universal Test and Treat is a strategy in which all HIV infected
individuals receive treatment whether in need or not. It is
aimed at eliminating HIV as it reduces the rate of spreading the
virus to other people. Using World Health Organisation (WHO)
estimates; it is predicted that through the Universal Test and
Treat programme the country will end HIV within 20yrs as a
public health concern.
Already; Test and Treat is offered to certain categories of HIV
infected individuals which are:
It is important that all people infected are
on treatment and have their viral load suppressed.
When will it start?
From the 1st of September 2016, people diagnosed with
HIV will get started on treatment immediately. This follows
Minister for Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, ground breaking
announcement on the 10th of May 2016 ushering in a new
policy change in the management and care of people living
with HIV and AIDS by effectively removing CD4 count as an
eligibility criterion for ARV treatment.
What is the first step
towards universal test and treat?
The first step is for everyone to know their HIV status,
which has two vital benefits. Firstly, if you are HIV positive,
you can take necessary steps before symptoms appear to access
treatment, care and support services, thereby potentially
prolonging your life for many years. Secondly, if you know you
are infected, you can take all the necessary precautions to
prevent the spread of HIV to others.
What do I do after testing?
Once you know your status, visit the nearest clinic to
access treatment or be linked to care and support programme so
that you remain negative.
is the Department doing to increase access to Universal Test and
The Department is calling on all people who were
tested before but not started on treatment to visit their
nearest clinic. Secondly; we are expanding access to HIV Testing
services by ensuring that these are available in all service
points e.g. in the wards, all health facilities, mobile clinics,
and community testing centers.
Lastly; treatment is made
available in all service points so that you don’t have to follow
Do I have to come to
the clinic every time to collect my medicines?
No. People collecting chronic medicines can now
do it near their homes or places of work. People with chronic
illnesses are encouraged to register for collection of chronic
treatment in 3 ways;
This programme has started in many areas and
you may find out from your clinic or hospital about it.
Currently there are 256 673 patients who are accessing care
through the pickup points. A further 44 638 have been
identified to collect treatment through adherence clubs, and
42 406 receive treatment at their chosen health facility but
go directly to the facility pharmacy and collect treatment;
they don’t wait in facility queues.
Are healthcare workers properly
trained to manage patients on ART?
Currently; there are many nurses and doctors already trained
to management people with HIV and starting them on
treatment. All health facilities have received support to
train more nurses on relevant courses to help them manage
and initiate people on treatment.
How is this programme going to be
The first step is to recall all persons who know
their HIV positive status to return to their respective
facilities so that they are started on treatment. This will
done through word of mouth, during health education sessions
at facilities, during outreach campaigns and using radio and
newspapers. The Ward Based Outreach Teams (WBOT), school
health teams and HAST tracer teams will also spread the word
and information to educate the community.
Other structures to be used include OSS war rooms, Ward AIDS
Council (WAD) in all municipal wards, Local AIDS Council (LAC)
in municipalities, District AIDS Council (DAC) in each district
municipality and the Provincial Council on AIDS (PCA) will be
used to call back patients who are not on treatment yet.
Existing structures who are appointed to work with the
department of health such as clinic committees and hospital
boards will be briefed through presentations to solicit their
support in communicating the same message to their respective
communities and to community based structures.
How important is treatment adherence?
“Treatment adherence” is a phrase that means
taking your HIV drugs when and at correct time as prescribed.
Treatment adherence is extremely important because it affects
how well your HIV medications decrease your viral load. The
lower your viral load;
The less likely that you transmit the virus
to your partner;
The more protected you are from other
opportunistic infections; and
The healthier you are likely to be.
Adherence also helps to prevent drug resistance.
What happens if I don’t
take my medicines?
If you skip a dose of your medication - even once - the virus
can take that opportunity to replicate, and make more HIV. When
you skip doses, you may develop strains of HIV that are
resistant to the medications you are currently taking - and
possibly even to medications you haven’t taken yet. If this
happens, it could leave you with fewer treatment options.
How do I prepare myself for life long
ART is a lifelong treatment that can keep you healthy
for many years and greatly reduce your chance to transmitting
HIV to your partner(s) if taken consistently and correctly.
Treatment is most likely to be successful when you know what to
expect and are committed to following the plan that you and your
healthcare provider work out together.
For many people,
starting treatment for their HIV disease means they have to make
significant changes in the way they live. It’s important for you
to know what you’re getting into before you start.
Once you start treatment you need to live healthy life. This
Healthy eating habits
Reduce alcohol intake or drugs
Use a condom regularly and consistently
Exercise regularly; and
Stick to one sex partner.
What if I am on
medicines for other ailments?
Let you healthcare professional know. You may
have to learn to take your medications at different times of the
day or change them all together. That’s because some meds can
change the way your body processes the other medications when
you take them together. They can make some medications
ineffective or increase the amount of medication in your body.
You should discuss all of these issues, and any
concerns you have, with your healthcare provider BEFORE you
begin treatment. Your provider will help you identify barriers
to staying on your plan and ways to address those barriers.
Understanding issues that can make staying on your treatment
plan difficult will help you and your health care provider
select the best treatment for you.
What do I do when I
react to my medicines?
Immediately go to the health facility. They may;
Change the treatment regimen, or
Refer you to a specialist or
Give advice on taking the medicines.
How often will I do the
viral load tests?
At first, you will need to do it every 6 months
and yearly thereafter.
As we move forward : Universal Test
The Government of South Africa has drastically
improved the general life expectancy of the people. Breadwinners
and parents are now living productive lives without fear of
dying too early and leaving behind orphaned children. And
mothers living with HIV are now are giving birth to babies
without the virus.
From 01 September 2016, all people who test positive for HIV
will be initiated on Antiretroviral Treatment immediately after
they have been diagnosed. They will not have to wait for their
CD4 Count to drop.
This will help lower the risk of illness, and prevent the
spread of the virus and early deaths.
We request all the responsible citizens who have taken the
test and have tested positive BUT may not be on treatment to go
back to their nearest clinics and hospitals to be put on HIV
If you need to know, your nearest clinic will assist