"I used to be weak, with frequent fevers and skin rash, and I had lost a lot of weight," Mawanda Magezi said. A married, 42-year-old farmer with three children, Mawanda and his family learned that he is HIV-positive through an innovative door-to-door HIV counseling and testing program in Uganda's Bushenyi District.
With support from PEPFAR, a local non-governmental organization called Integrated Community Based Initiatives (ICOBI) brings HIV counseling and testing services to clients' homes. This home-based approach provides all family members the opportunity to learn about HIV and the benefits of knowing their status, and to share their concerns with trained community members in the comfort of their own homes.
The ICOBI team visited Mawanda's home equipped with educational materials and rapid HIV test kits. Mawanda and his wife were tested for HIV together as a couple. The results showed that they are HIV-discordant.
"Discovering that I was HIV-positive and my wife negative shocked us, and I felt that this was the end of the world. But with support from the counselors on HIV prevention and positive living, we learned how to continue," Mawanda explained.
Mawanda was immediately referred to the health unit for care, tuberculosis screening and treatment assessments. The family received a basic preventive care package consisting of a safe water system, insecticide-treated bed nets, condoms and information on positive prevention strategies. With regular follow-up visits from the ICOBI team, Mawanda's health greatly improved. Ongoing counseling facilitated the couple's decision to disclose their HIV status to their children and community.
The door-to-door approach to counseling and testing enables families and communities to build stronger support systems in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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