The department of health and Right to Care have included voluntary HIV testing and counselling in the mass door-to-door Covid-19 screening and testing drive.
For those who do not know their HIV status, getting tested was key to surviving the coronavirus, said Dr Seithati Molefi, deputy chief of party at the healthcare non-profit organisation Right To Care in the Free State.
Molefi said those already on treatment were stronger and likely to be more able to fight Covid-19.
“Patients who have stopped taking their ARVs are also at risk of severe disease and should ensure they get back on their medication immediately.”
Molefi said the lockdown has caused confusion about where people could go for testing, though public healthcare facilities were open for important health services under any lockdown level.
“Anyone seeking medical care during the lockdown will not get into trouble with the authorities, since healthcare is an essential service.
“It is also important that everyone continues to take their chronic medication so they are as healthy as possible.”
Molefi said those who wanted to be tested for HIV should simply ask the healthcare workers at their home to test them at the same time they were screened for Covid-19 at no charge.
“If you don’t know your HIV status, Right to Care and the department of health’s community counsellors will give you a respectful, free and confidential HIV test wherever you are comfortable: at your nearest facility, in your community or your home.
“This will make it easy for you to test, start treatment and stay on treatment,” Dr Chuka Onaga, deputy chief of party at Right To Care in Mpumalanga, said.