HIV Testing Services
HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) is a gateway to care and support at Lighthouse because establishing a client’s HIV status enables a more effective clinical management. At Lighthouse, we offer free open access counseling and testing services, exclusively using rapid tests that give initial results in 15 minutes. We have provider initiated (PITC) and client initiated (CITC) static counseling sites serving our clientele. These are at Lighthouse main campus, Kamuzu Central Hospital (medical and surgical wards, short stay, and antenatal and maternity clinics at the Ethel Muthalika wing, Eye and skin clinics), and at Martin Preuss centre in Bwaila Hospital (HTC rooms in the TB, chronic coughers, STI clinic, U5C, OPD and Bwaila maternity that includes ANC). We also have an outreach site in Maula Prison focusing on the inmates. HIV prevalence ranges between 16-20% of the 9,500 average monthly encounters seen in all our sites. Lighthouse is prototyping its services in the nine (9) sites of Lilongwe peri-urban and urban. Our staff in the sites are testing an average of 12,000 per month with a positive yield of around 1000 (8%)
In addition to on-site testing and counseling, Lighthouse organizes periodic community testing and encourages communities’ involvement in the whole process. Volunteers from CBOs working in partnership with their chiefs and Lighthouse takes the responsibility of community sensitization as well as testing site identification for an upcoming community testing. Our linkage with Malawi AIDS Counselling and Resource organization (MACRO) on moonlight testing (HIV testing conducted at night targeting the key populations) is on course. This is averaging 30% HIV prevalence for FSW.
We are on course with Malawi’s targets as highlighted in the national strategic plan where 90% of all positives will be identified, 90% of all positives will be initiated on lifelong ARVs and 90% of those on ART will have their viral load suppressed.
At Lighthouse Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) and ART adherence enhancement are simplified because Lighthouse’s HTC is well integrated into its clinical care. Firstly, HTC department identifies as well as links infants who are either exposed to HIV or are HIV infected into early care and treatment. A system is also put in place to trace and enhance retention to care of all infants that are HIV positive or still breast feeding. Secondly, ART clients who have missed their ART refill appointment date or are assessed to have an adherence of less than 95% per their pill count during their clinics visit are referred to HTC to undergo one-to-one adherence counseling with the aim of improving their adherence.