U.S. Rep. Smith Urges African Nations To Promote Home Visits as HIV Control Strategy
African countries should promote the use of home visits as a method of providing HIV testing and counseling services, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) said on Wednesday, CQ HealthBeat reports. Smith, who chairs the Africa subcommittee of the House Committee on International Relations, said that African nations should follow a program implemented by Uganda under which teams of workers visit people's homes to administer HIV tests and provide follow-up counseling. Workers are trained to disclose HIV-positive results in such a way that spousal abuse does not occur, according to Smith. When dealing with couples in which only one person is HIV-positive, workers hand out condoms to ensure the HIV-negative person does not contract the virus, Smith said. He added that HIV-positive people also are prescribed antiretroviral drugs and educated on how to take them. In addition, they are given insecticide-treated nets to protect themselves from malaria and containers of water and a chlorine additive to prevent waterborne disease, according to Smith. Uganda's home visit system should serve as a model because it affords people privacy when receiving HIV tests and follow-up counseling, which eliminates the fear of stigmatization that keeps people from accessing such services at clinics, he said. According to Smith, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief recently has funded 100,000 home visits in Uganda and plans to fund an additional 250,000 visits in the next few months (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/18). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 focus countries, including Uganda (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/11). PEPFAR is set to expire in 2008, Smith said, adding that its renewal should increase funding levels for home-visit programs and antiretroviral drug treatments, Smith said (CQ HealthBeat, 1/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.