NGO expands viral load testing services

VICTORIA Falls-based non-governmental organisation, Beat Aids Project of Zimbabwe has expanded its viral load testing services to non-clinical sites in the districts of Matabeleland North and South as part of efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality through rapid interventions.

Zimbabwe is now using the World Health Organisation recommended viral load testing ahead of the CD4 count which counts the number of white cells in the blood instead of the actual virus. The method allows health professionals to monitor a patient’s response to treatment and make recommendations where necessary ensuring quality of life for the affected.

In an interview at the sidelines of a stakeholders meeting in Hwange recently, the organisation’s chief operation officer, Mr Cryface Lusinga said they have embarked on the exercise to assist Government in dispensing quality medical services by ensuring that people living with HIV undergo viral load testing.

“As you may well be aware, viral load testing is now the international standard and as an organisation seeking to address HIV and Aids and related issues we have decided to expand our services to other districts outside Hwange such as Binga, Lupane and Tsholotsho. We are also moving to Matabeleland South. We have machines that do the viral load screening and what we do is we collect blood samples at either hospitals or clinics for testing at our base in Victoria Falls. That way patients are able to access their results quickly as part of monitoring the activity of the virus in the body,” said Mr Lusinga.

He said at the moment samples from Matabeleland North were being referred to Bulawayo.

Mr Lusinga said they had also embarked on a programme targeting newly resettled farmers in the province by providing services at non-clinical sites. Villagers in some areas walk for about 15 kilometres to access the nearest health facility.

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