In its quest to increase uptake of HIV self-test services, Society for Family Health (SFH) has continuously sought innovative ways of reaching out to targeted audiences in the HIV Self-Testing Africa (STAR) Initiative project areas.

In August 2017, SFH kick-started the implementation of Phase II of the STAR project, which was initially started in 2015, in Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces primarily focusing on community-led model of kits distribution to the public.

This prompted SFH to develop new Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material such as, posters and brochures that speak to targeted audiences, and subsequent roll-out of the IEC material in two provinces with a view to increase uptake of the alternative testing services.

The first flag-off ceremony of the IEC material took place on 19th February 2018 at the provincial administration offices in Ndola, while the other one was held on the 19th April 2018 in Chongwe’s Obama area.

And speaking at the ceremony SFH Executive Director Dr. Namwinga Chintu expressed satisfaction that the community has accepted the project, stating that there were able to go for HIV self-test services in their locality.

Dr. Chintu also hailed the partnership between the Government and SFH, saying that there was need for stronger collaborations to sustain the project in future.

She urged the public to make use of the availability of the self-test services to know their status, saying that it was an alternative to the traditional testing.

Meanwhile, Chongwe Mayor Geoffrey Chuumbwe commended SFH for contributing towards the attainment of the United Nations Global 2020 HIV targets of “90-90-90” through the implementation of the STAR project in the country.

Mr. Chuumbwe added that self-testing service was an alternative to bridge HIV self-testing gaps in the country.

“It is gratifying to note that through various interventions to curb the spread of HIV, the positivity rate for the Chongwe district has been dropping steadily over the years. For example, in 2016, 32, 269 people were tested for HIV out of which 2, 429 tested HIV positive, giving a positivity rate of 8%. As for 2017, a total of 92, 320 clients tested for HIV out of 4, 421 tested positive giving a positivity rate of 5%,” said Mr. Chuumbwe.

And Copperbelt permanent secretary Bright Nundwe urged civil servants to embrace self-test services.

Mr Nundwe added that the importance of self-test services was that testing could be done anywhere and that if one test positive there was need for them to go for linkage to nearby health centres, so that they could be put on treatment.

He said HIV/ AIDS was real and that there were no medicines to cure the disease hence the need for civil servants to help prevent the disease by having the right attitudes.