At least 18 clinics and hospitals in Limpopo are without HIV testing kits as months-long shortages of the HIV diagnostics continue in the province, according to the Treatment Action Campaign, which has been denied by Limpopo Health.
Bhekisisa reports that this is according to Aids lobby group the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) provincial chair Moses Makhomisane, who says he fears rape survivors might miss out on preventative treatment because of the shortage of HIV testing kits.
“Somebody who has been raped only has a 72-hour chance to prevent themselves from getting infected with HIV and for them to access PrEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), they need to be tested,” he explains. The report notes that people who have been raped can get antiretroviral (ARV) medication within 72 hours of the attack to prevent HIV infection as part of PrEP. Because the ARVs used in the PrEP may not be the same as those needed to treat HIV, rape survivors must first test HIV-negative before they start taking PrEP.
But, according to the report, TAC and medicine-monitoring organisation Stop Stockouts Project say facilities in two of the province’s five districts have been running low on testing kits since July. And on Twitter, activists warn the problem could be more widespread. Other Twitter users say it’s not the first time they have heard reports of HIV testing kit stock-outs.
The report says the Limpopo Health Department admits that HIV testing kits ran low in July and August, but says the kits were reshuffled between facilities and provinces to avoid stock-outs. “At no time was the Limpopo Health (Department) completely out of stock. Currently, Limpopo has sufficient stock to service all clients visiting our health facilities,” says spokesperson Derick Kganyago.
The country recently began purchasing testing kits from new suppliers as part of a new national tender, according to National Department of Health director of communications Foster Mohale. He explains that there was a delay in delivering tests to provinces as newly procured kits were being quality assured, but says provinces should have ordered enough stock under the old tender to see them through the change in suppliers.
“There is no national shortage of test kits. All provinces are going through a transition period from the previous expired tender to the current one. The procurement of the test kits is decentralised to provinces and each province has to make projections and manage their stock based on their targets,” Mohale says.
He says the provinces began ordering testing kits for October in August under the new tender.
The report says Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has yet to respond to a TAC letter about stock-outs, she has pledged to investigate the issue via social media.Bhekisisa report