The private HIV clinic at Netcare Garden City Hospital in Johannesburg introduced an initiative that encourages South Africans to learn their HIV status.
The clinic is offering free HIV testing, including pre-test and post-test counselling, to the people of Johannesburg as part of a community outreach programme.
According to the clinic, the counselling is a critical part of the testing as it prepares you for what to expect and provides reassurance and guidance should you test positive.
“People often put off testing because they are worried about the result. However, testing is the only way to know for certain if you have HIV, and knowing your status means you can keep yourself and your sexual partners healthy,” said HIV clinician Dr Kairoonisha “Kay” Mahomed, who runs the HIV clinic at the hospital.
She said knowing your status allows you to take control of your health, giving you a much-improved chance of living a long and healthy life.
Although there is still a stigma associated with testing positive for HIV, Mahomed said that with the new antiretroviral medications available today, HIV has become a very manageable and treatable chronic condition.
She added that some HIV-positive people are afraid of seeking medical attention during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and therefore suffer complications and develop other HIV-associated conditions, such as tuberculosis (TB).
But she said stable HIV-positive people do not appear to be any more vulnerable than the rest of the population.
“Given this, we recommend that all South Africans who have never been tested before should seriously consider doing so. Through the free testing and counselling initiative, we are committed to making these more accessible to the people of Johannesburg,” said Mahomed.
The clinic is open from 9am to 2.30pm, Monday to Friday.