new start for all

THE New Start HIV Counselling and Testing network celebrated another milestone yesterday when it recorded 520000 clients serviced since it opened its doors in December 2004.

THE New Start HIV Counselling and Testing network celebrated another milestone yesterday when it recorded 520000 clients serviced since it opened its doors in December 2004.

Miriam Mhazo, senior programme manager at New Start, said: "This is a great milestone for us and a sign of our continued commitment to supporting the government of South Africa in accomplishing its national strategic plan for the prevention of HIV.

"The reason for our success lies in our partnerships with the Department of Health, our donors Global Fund and the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief through the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as our franchise partners and fellow non-governmental organisations," Mhazo said.

"Word of mouth has also played a pivotal role in the success of New Start. We encourage all those who have visited the centres to keep spreading the word about our quality services," she said.

Last year alone 200000 people used New Start. The facility allows clients to walk in without appointments and receive HIV counselling and testing services for R25.

The duration of the session is about an hour and referrals for post-test support services are given if clients need them.

"We encourage couples to come into the centres for joint counselling and testing. Counsellors are specially trained and can answer any questions that couples may have on HIV and Aids and help them to develop a plan to live a longer and healthier life together, whether they test HIV-positive or HIV-negative or if their results are different," Mhazo said.

New Start's first three sites opened in December 2004 in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. There are 15 New Start Counselling and Testing Centres around the country. The sites, which complement the government's activities, also have mobile outreach teams that target people who do not normally visit public health centres.

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