MASAKA. The 90- 90- 90 strategy is an ambitious HIV/AIDS treatment target that was launched by United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and other partners.
Launched in 2013, the target aims at having 90 percent of persons living with HIV/AIDS knowing their status, 90 percent of diagnosed people getting anti retroviral therapy (ART) and 90 percent of these having their viral load suppressed.
Viral load suppression is when a person’s viral load or the amount of virus in an HIV positive person blood is reduced to undetectable level.
According to WHO and UNAIDS, persons with suppressed viral load live a normal life and may not pass on the virus to another person as long as they are ‘undetectable.
The government of Uganda and its partners believe that the country is making significant progress towards meeting this target.
Currently, an estimated 1.35 million Ugandans are living with HIV, and according to Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) estimates, a significant 74 percent of these know their status.
The 2018 UNAIDS data indicates that 89 percent of these are enrolled on treatment.
The Uganda National Health Laboratory Services (UNHLS) in the Health Ministry conducted the study in 2014 to August, last year, in at least 90 per cent of Uganda’s 126 districts, established that Uganda’s national average on viral load suppression was 86 percent.
But in regard to this stride, the contribution of venerable HIV/AIDS care Non Government Organisations; Kitovu Mobile being one of them, is not disputable.
For example, realisation of the first 90, on whose success the other 90-90, depend, calls for which health system endeavors to make HIV testing easily available even in the most remote areas of the country.
Here, Kitovu Mobile has exactly done this. Through its outreaches, the famously known first HIV care organization in Masaka sub region has in year 2017 and 2018, tested 495 and 481people, respectively, fetching then from distant high risk areas greater Masaka,most of them being landing sites.
The second 90, which is enrolling those who emerge positive on care, and further retain them to enhance adherence, Kitovu Mobile in 2018, had 230 clients with good adherence with less than six people with fair and poor adherence.
In line with the last 90 (Viral load suppressed), 97 percent of these have their viral load suppressed.
In fact, with such efforts, this could partly explain why The Uganda National Health Laboratory Services (UNHLS) in the Health Ministry study findings released in November last year, had Masaka, Kyotera, Rakai; which are in Kitovu Mobile’s catchment area, were ranked best in Buganda region in terms of viral load suppression per district.
According to Ms Jackie Namulondo, a health worker at Kitovu Mobile Medical Centre several factors have seen them realise this success. Among them is intensive adherence counseling at the facility, where clients are taken through the benefits of drugs adherence.”Our clients sit with their counselors who take them through the advantages of good adherence which include viral load suppression, less chances of getting opportunistic infections and so many others”She says
Availability of drugs (ARVS) at the facility as well as keeping appointments for drug refills has also been key , Ms Namulondo says .
“Our facility has never experienced cases of drug stock outs which is key in suppressing viral load.” She boasts .
She adds that they have managed to deal with HIV- related stigma which had threatened many clients from coming at the facility to pick drugs, but with constant counseling, stigma is gradually reducing.