All along the Zambian shore line of Lake Tanganyika there are people living in remote villages which are inaccessible by road. People in these villages have very limited access to health care and HIV services. The project will provide HIV services such as education and testing - so that a person can know their status, CD4 Cell Count testing for anyone found to be living with HIV - to enable the commencement of Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) and ART initiation within a village for the first time.
For a person to know their HIV status & CD4 Cell Count they must travel for hours by boat to Mpulungu Health Centre. There are many challenges faced by villagers which prevent most from accessing these services. Life in the village is dictated by fishing as this is the primary source of income. Men usually fish by night but also by day, women dry the fish, take care of their home & children. This does not leave time to be absent. Transport costs are another barrier to accessing healthcare.
The best way to meet the health needs of communities living along the Lake is to offer HIV testing and same day CD4 Cell Counts in their village, through the use of an approved portable CD4 Cell Count testing machine. The main benefit is that it analyses a CD4 Cell Count from a blood test, giving a result in 20 minutes. (Normally this can take up to 2 days). So in 30 minutes, if a person tests positive for HIV, their CD4 Cell Count can be obtained and they can start Antiretroviral Treatment.
More people will know their HIV status. Transmission rates will reduce as people are educated on how to live positively & how to maintain a negative status. If people living with HIV begin ART it will improve life expectancy & quality. Women & girls are at high risk of being infected with HIV due to early marriages. They are more likely to access HIV services if offered within their village. If an expectant mother knows her HIV status, Mother To Child Transmission & Child Mortality will reduce.