Comic Relief has supported Ace Africa’s community development work since 2004 with 3 multi-year grants in Bungoma County, Western Kenya. At the start of 2016 Ace was awarded another Comic Relief grant for work in Arusha District Council, rural Tanzania.
The grant aims to strengthen capacity and access to quality health services for people affected by HIV and AIDS.
Ace Africa’s operational findings and research suggested key barriers to service provision, in Arusha, including the communities limited knowledge and access to HIV services in addition to a lack of quality services. Furthermore, Ace found there were high levels of stigma and discrimination with 43% of youths/adults not tested, 82% of which were unwilling due to fear of prejudice, isolation or violence particularly women. Finally, Ace found that there was inadequate monitoring of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWA) management, care and support within the communities of Arusha DC. The Ace Africa 3-year project aims to tackle these barriers to HIV service provision and support the government in reaching the “90-90-90” target by 2020 (90% of all PLWA are diagnosed and know their HIV status, 90% of those diagnosed are initiated and maintained on ART, and 90% of those on ART are virally suppressed).
The Ace Africa Health programme involves developing an integrated comprehensive HIV care package involving key stakeholders and including activities of outreach Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT), household referrals to health facilities, Care and Treatment Clinics (CTC), basic medication and nutritional supplements. And with Community Health Mentors (CHM) providing weekly household visits, basic health, nutrition, adherence monitoring and monthly referrals to ART nurses at health facilities. The comprehensive care package is designed to ensure individuals get diagnosed and access to support services and care all the way through treatment.
Having now completed the second year of project implementation Ace Africa has an array of positive outcomes to report on.
- 59% increase in the number of community members attending general health and HIV awarenss days totalling 8,855 community members during the year.
- 5,059 community members were tested for HIV including at night testing (which frequently target higher risk groups), VCT. Of those testing positive, 97% were successfully referred and registered at Care and Treatment Clinics, demonstrating the effectiveness of the integrated HIV testing, care and support programme.
- By the end of 2017, 2,788 PLWA were registered at CTCs as compared to 582 PLWA registered at baseline in one CTC demonstrating an increase in knowledge and access to services.
- Ace has now trained a total of 77 Community Health Mentors in HIV home based care and management. This approach has reportedly improved the quality of care. Adherence to antiretroviral therapy lay at 97% amongst registered PLWA by the end of 2017.
Ace Africa’s has surpassed many of its project targets this year. Ace Africa is a critical agent, supporting the Tanzanian National HIV Strategic Plan, which aims to ‘increase equitable access for PLWA to continuum of care, treatment and support’ across the country and reach the ambitious goal of 90-90-90 by 2020.
For the third year running Comic Relief took a corporate team from TK Maxx to visit Ace Africa Health and Wellbeing programmes in Arusha. Feedback once again was was very positive with TK Maxx staff reporting having had successful and insightful trip.