Research evaluating the implementation and impact of universal test and treat (UTT) HIV policies in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, reveals several key areas which need to be strengthened in order to meet the ambitious UNAIDS ‘95’ goals for access to services.

In a published policy brief, researchers have put forward four recommendations to policy makers in South Africa:

  1. HIV testing services at the health facilities should focus more attention on offering services to vulnerable populations. Health facilities should reduce stigma and discrimination to attract vulnerable populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and drug users.
  2. Targets at health facilities can be set up to provide guidance on the quality assurance of HIV testing, treatment and care for key populations. HIV programmes that are implemented from national policies and World Health Organisation guidelines should consider what mechanisms can be used to set the appropriate standards in health facilities, effectively monitor the quality of the services provided and build the necessary accountability into the management of the programmes.
  3. Reinforcing importance of baseline clinical testing in the context of Test and Treat. This includes training health workers on the importance of periodic testing of viral loads and CD4 count and explaining the test results to patients.
  4. Increase differentiated care service delivery models for HIV pregnant and post-partum women by increasing cooperation from multiple partners (health users, providers, policymakers, practitioners, community) to ensure the successful implementation of differentiated service delivery policies.

Read the full policy brief here.

* Read more about the research which this policy brief draws on in the special issue of Global Public HealthUnderstanding the health systems impacts of “Test and Treat” in sub-Saharan Africa‘.