The results of secret and sometimes nocturnal activity is sometimes revealed during the day, and it is usually a difficult mission to uncover stuff that takes place in the dark corners or behind closed doors.
However, it would appear a study of behavioural patterns is slowly helping the country in its fight against HIV and Aids with reports that night testing for HIV had gained popularity.
This would suggest that there was a huge population that is exposed to the risk of HIV infection that remained unreached as organisations involved in the HIV fight focussed on conventional methods. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. We are glad that the
National Aids Council appears to have realised that applying a one-size-fits-all kind of approach instead of being dynamic and being guided by the populations at risk would not work.
It is a fact that some people are not comfortable walking into New Start Centres, or any testing facility. It is even worse in an area where one is known since people tend to feel that their results’ privacy would not be guaranteed largely due to gossip.
This is not to say the centres divulge such private information but people tend to speculate once they see a neighbour going for testing. It is our hope that those that test at night are doing so due to work commitments and that after the initial fear wears off they shall feel free to visit the same centres during the day for testing.
It is only through testing to know one’s status that they can benefit from anti-retroviral treatment. Many people delay going for testing due to the fear of the unknown. We would like to urge our people to go for testing and encourage friends and relatives to know their status.
Also, if there are any unreached populations it would be important to alert authorities on the best strategies to reach such people. For example, due to the nature of their activities, there are areas where gold panners work at night and only emerge during the day, when most of them prefer to sleep rather than engage in much activity.
There are also sex workers that tend to work at night also, and spend the day indoors. It is quite important to devise strategies that target and encourage such populations that are at risk to go for testing and practise safe sex.
“Moonlight testing has increased the positivity yield and participation in HIV testing. Mainly targeting key populations namely sex workers, long distance truck drivers and artisanal miners, it is important for everyone to know their status as one of our objectives is reducing new infections and saving lives.
“With the high response we are getting from Moonlight Programme, this will help in curbing new HIV infections in the country, towards ending Aids by 2030,” said Nac monitoring and evaluation director Amon Mpofu.
We cannot afford to miss our target of subduing the HIV/ Aids threat by 2030. However, everything hinges on our attitude towards testing, treatment and adherence to the lifetime treatment.