Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing

We offer a free ongoing Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) service at Campus Health on the first floor of the Community and Health Sciences building. Our counseling and nursing staff are very professional and maintain excellent standards in confidentiality, counseling and testing. We have one full-time HIV counsellor. In addition to the ongoing service we also offer a number of annual large - scale testing drives on campus. These are advertised via Thetha and posters on camnpus.


Voluntary Counseling and Testing is a key HIV prevention strategy and the objective of our VCT program at UWC is:

  • To encourage all students and staff to know their status
  • To prevent the spread of HIV on our campus and in the community
  • To reduce risk behaviour amongst students and staff
  • To provide psycho-social and medical care for clients testing HIV positive
  • To encourage positive living for our HIV positive clients.
     
     

The Voluntary Counseling and Testing process consists of:

     A pre-test counseling session
     A testing session
     A post-test counseling session

The entire process takes approximately 1 hour to complete. Appointments can be made by calling the reception desk at Campus Health at 959 2875/6. Walk-ins are seen according to counselor availability, so appointments are highly recommended. Counseling occurs between 09:00 and 16:00 from Mondays to Thursdays at Campus Health. We also offer couple counselling and group counselling.


The Pre-test counseling


Counseling is an important component of Voluntary Counseling and Testing as the client receives the necessary information to make an informed decision about testing and has the opportunity to reflect on risk behaviour and develop strategies to reduce risk behaviour.


During pre-test counseling the following issues are discussed:

  • Confidentiality - Student records are kept under a code, not their name
  • The test and the testing procedure
  • Assessment of risk behaviour
  • Risk reduction strategies
  • Abstinence and safe sex practices
  • The implications of a positive test
  • Coping strategies in the case of a positive test
  • Consenting to test (the client signs a consent form)


The Testing Procedure

HIV contains many proteins (antigens) to which the immune system produces antibodies. Antibodies protect the immune system by destroying viruses and bacteria, but cannot destroy the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). If HIV antibodies are present in the blood, it is an indication of an HIV infection.


There are two categories of tests:

  • Tests to identify the virus
  • Tests to identify HIV antibodies

 

Tests to identify the virus are very expensive and require specialized equipment and skills for testing, whilst tests to identify HIV antibodies are more cost effective. Examples of antibody tests are the Western Blot, Elisa and Rapid Tests. Western Blot and Elisa are specialized tests done in laboratories, whilst Rapid Tests are simple, reliable tests that can be done at any clinic by trained nurses, doctors and lay counsellors. Furthermore, whilst these laboratory test results are only available within two to seven days, Rapid Test results are available within 10 to 15 minutes. The test itself involves a simple prick to the tip of a finger to draw the required few drops of blood required.

The sensitivity (accurate detection of HIV antibodies-positive status) and specificity (the accurate detection of no antibodies-negative status) of Rapid Tests compare favourably to the Elisa tests.

All Rapid Tests used at Campus Health have been tested by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for sensitivity and specificity and meet the required government standards. Currently we use the Abbott Determine Rapid Test as a screening test and the Sensa Tri - Line Test as a confirmatory test in the case of a positive screening test. The test only consists of a finger prick. A safety lancet is used for the finger prick - this means there is no risk of being pricked by the same needle - once the lancet is used it cannot be re - used.


The Post-Test Counseling

During the post-test counseling session, the test result is given to the client.

If the test is negative, the following are discussed with the client:

  • The window period. This is a three-month period between infection and the detection of antibodies, which makes it possible to test negative for HIV but actually have a positive status.
  • Risk reduction strategies to remain negative
  • Abstinence and safe sex practices
  • Follow-up testing

The following issues are dealt with if the results are positive:

  • Emotional responses and concerns
  • Coping strategies
  • Psycho-social support (individual support and support group)
  • Disclosure to partners and family
  • Appointment for follow-up counseling and ongoing psycho-social support.
  • Safe sex practices to prevent re-infection and the spread of the disease to others. (With practicing unprotected sex, one can be re-infected with different and resistant strains the virus and the viral load in one’s body remains very high).
  • Information on positive living, nutrition, contraception, disease progression, the immune system, CD4, viral load, opportunistic diseases and antiretroviral treatment.
  • Nutritional supplements and vitamins are provided
  • Flu vaccines are administered annually to persons with CD4 counts above 200.
  • Follow up tests to determine CD4 counts
  • Complete physical examination and a staging assessment according to WHO criteria
  • The importance of annual PAP smears for HIV positive women

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

In the event of exposure to the HIV virus through sexual assault, needle prick injuries or otherwise, post-exposure prophylaxis in the form of short-term dose anti-retroviral treatment and post-coital contraception can be provided through the Clinic within (72 HOURS) of exposure. Post-exposure prophylaxis is designed to minimize the chances of HIV transmission but is not at all as effective as using condoms every time you have sex. The sooner prophylaxis is sought after exposure, the more effective it tends to be.


Voluntary Counseling and Testing is done between 09:00 and 16:00 from Mondays to Thursdays at Campus Health.

To meet our staff and see their contact information, please click here:

For more information about VCT Services, to speak to the counselor: Olive Tel: 959 3966 or to make an appointment call reception: Tel 959 2875/6