The Metropolitan Health Risk Management YourLife Programme has partnered with Atomo Diagnostics, the developer of the award-winning AtomoRapidTM HIV test, to host a wellness day for nearly 1400 Golden Arrow employees.
In corporate South Africa, testing for HIV infection is still considered a contentious issue. However, it is critical for companies to encourage employees to become aware of their status. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is one of the greatest risks that a company faces due to the revenue loss facilitated by absenteeism and a high staff turnover, as well as the costs associated with retaining new staff.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 states that it is the responsibility of the employer to create and maintain, as far as is reasonable, a work environment that is safe and without risk to the workforce.
“Our experience with previous rapid tests did not instil the required confidence in the result,” said Executive Manager for Metropolitan Health Risk Management’s HIV YourLife Programme, Siraaj Adams. “Through a due diligence process, a decision was subsequently taken to use AtomoRapidTM HIV as the primary screening test as it had the necessary capabilities.”
For more than nine years, the HIV YourLife Programme has provided companies and employees with HIV/AIDS disease management and care. However, in the past, people have typically only joined the programme once they are already ill (advanced disease). This delay was exacerbated by the associated stigma and concerns relating to confidentiality and the accuracy of the voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) result.
Metropolitan Health Risk Management’s innovative new HIV testing web tool (in conjunction with the AtomoRapid HIVTM test) has simplified diagnosis and improved the link to care after diagnosis. With enrolment rates post HIV diagnosis jumping from below 30% to nearly 80%, diagnosis is now taking place earlier, and those affected are enrolling sooner on HIV disease management programmes.
“Companies must ensure that the rapid diagnostics tests used during wellness events are as accurate as possible. They need to be simple and reliable and remove sources of error,” said Managing Director of Atomo Africa, Brad Mears
“Bits-in-a-box tests are complex to use, which can cause a misinterpretation of results. A significant number of positive infections are routinely missed, which could mislead an HIV positive individual to believe that they are HIV negative. The health and wellbeing of this individual is at risk because they might not take the necessary precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV and additionally, they will not enrol for the necessary care and treatment that they require,” said Mears.
South Africa has reached a mature stage in managing the HIV epidemic. As the country scales up its response to the epidemic, quality of care must not be compromised. According to Mears, the quality of tests in the market place varies greatly and providers and patients need to be educated about what they are using. “A high quality test such as AtomoRapid HIV™ mitigates the likelihood of human error.
“We also need to ensure that patients have a positive experience when testing with additional support structures. We believe our partnership with Metropolitan Health, and the integration of our tests into the HIV YourLife Programme, achieve exactly that,” concluded Mears.
Future expansion of the partnership will be driven through the HIV provider network that has over 1,000 General Practitioners and 150 specialists contracted.