By Donna Sherard, Deputy Director, Sexual, Reproductive Health and TB Department, PSI
Today, on World AIDS Day 2013, PSI and Alere are excited to announce that the one millionth HIV rapid test donated by Alere has landed on the ground in Zimbabwe. This moment is a cause for celebration as a further step toward achieving an AIDS-free generation.
Two years ago today PSI joined with Alere, a leading healthcare diagnostic company, to champion a commitment to increase access to rapid HIV testing. As part of this partnership, Alere donated one million HIV rapid tests as part of their ‘Make (+) More Positive’ campaign. The donation has aided 10 countries with the highest HIV prevalence and greatest need for tests in the world. The donation has also served to address critical gaps in test kit availability where PSI is the lead HIV testing provider.
PSI has worked to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS since the early days of the epidemic. In 1988, we began our first HIV prevention program in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, PSI’s HIV prevention and treatment services have grown exponentially, and are now offered in over 60 countries around the world.
Together, through Alere’s state of the art rapid testing technology and PSI’s extensive distribution channels, these one million tests are helping people like Li*. For those who test positive, like Li and his wife, PSI provides the resources and support they need to live a full life.
“My wife and I have been injecting heroin for many years and we were both afraid that we might have been infected by HIV like many of our friends. We had heard about the Huxianghao Ba Clinic (HXH**) before but had never dared to go there. One of my best friends invited my wife and me to attend a gathering at HXH. During the party, an HXH staff member named Mei* talked to us about HIV and AIDS and asked us whether we would like to get tested, saying that we would know the results in just a few minutes. We both decided to do it.
My heart sank when Mei explained to us that both of our results were HIV positive. Mei then shared with us that she too, was HIV positive. She told us that at first she had a very difficult time accepting her status. Despite her fear of how others in her community would react, or how the disease would affect her livelihood, Mei sought counseling and treatment, and eventually joined PSI as a peer educator. That night, Mei talked with a smile about her current life, about her job, and about her family. She seemed to be positive about life and living with her status.
Remembering Mei’s story really helped my wife and me feel better about our positive status. We visited the doctor at the infectious hospital where Mei referred us. The doctor gave us a confirmatory test and a CD4 count test. We are now both seeking treatment and moving forward positively with knowledge of how to live with HIV. My wife and I will work together to stay healthy and face the future together.”
For people like Li and Mei and the countless others living with HIV, PSI and Alere will continue to work towards an AIDS-free generation, empowering others to stay healthy and face the future positively.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
** HXH was formerly part of the PSI Clinical Health Network in China.Read More