An implementing partner on the USAID funded, FHI360 managed Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpIC) project, WAAF has been one of the few entities in Ghana to embark on new approaches in the fight against HIV, namely Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV Self-Testing (HIVST).
Over the last couple of months, PrEP has continued and has gained momentum. Together with our donors, WAAF is happy to have now initiated HIV Self Testing to complement other key HIV interventions.
HIV self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private locations. This strategy is intended to help increase awareness of HIV infection for people who wouldn’t otherwise get an HIV test.
Ghana’s quest to reach the 95-95-95 targets in a relatively low HIV prevalence environment means evidenced based innovative strategies are needed. Additionally, COVID-19 has made it more difficult for people to access places that routinely provide HIV tests such as health facilities and community level outreaches.
Realizing the benefits of knowing ones HIV status early, such as improved health and lower spread of the infection, getting tested through ways that are not only convenient but are also in compliance with COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing and stay at home orders are important.
With financial support from USAID and technical support from FHI360 and Equip Ghana, WAAF is stepping up its EpIC project activities to include HIV Self-Testing. This started off with a Trainer of Trainer workshop early February 2021 where leads of the project and other key staff were trained on HIV Self-Testing which touched on topics such as:
- The importance of HIVST
- Introduction to and use of the Ghana HIVST guide
- Practicals of HIVST – How to administer HIVST, interpret results and follow up
The Trainer Of Trainers sessions is now being followed up with a cascading down training where frontline workers are being trained on how to support HIVST at community level.
The result will be that WAAF and its sub-recipient community-based organizations; Hope Alliance Foundation (HAF) and Worldwide International Youth Organization (WIYO), will be able to support residents of their service areas with self-test knowledge including what to do when a test is positive and HIVST kits so they can conduct the test conveniently on their own.
WAAF, thanks the USAID for the financial support for this intervention and FHI360 and EQUIP-Ghana for their technical support and guidance. We look forward to adding this important intervention to existing ones as we continue the last mile in reaching HIV epidemic control in Ghana.