On December 4, 2009, you launched the Apac Project. Everybody is talking about it and it even appeared in the International media:
Qn 1 What is the TASO Apac Project?
ANS: Apac project is a home to home based HIV counseling and testing Project for eligible individuals. Un like the other home to home HIV Counselling and testing projects this particular one includes testing for Malaria as well.
Qn 2 What are the main Objectives of the Project?
ANS: The Goal of the project is to provide 100% access to home based confidential HIV counseling and testing/Malaria testing throughout the district of Apac and link those testing positive for HIV/Malaria to care, treatment and prevention services.
Specific objectives [are]:
• To promote 100% access to home based confidential HIV counseling and testing/Malaria testing in Apac district through a house to house approach with guidance from Village health teams and local leadership.
• To link 100% of the people who test positive for malaria or HIV through the home based HCT to HIV/Malaria prevention and treatment services
• To provide home based confidential HIV Counselling and testing to 80,000 homesteads in Apac by 2012.
• Provide HIV/Malaria prevention services through post test counseling, Condom distribution, Seprtrin prophylaxis.
Qn: 3 Who is funding the Project?
ANS:The project is funded by PEPFAR through the center for disease control (CDC)
Qn: 4 How was TASO selected as the implementer of the project?
ANS: A Request For application (RFA) was advertised in Newspapers and on their website where any organization would apply. So, TASO submitted the most competitive proposal.
Qn: 5 Why did you specifically choose Apac of all the districts and regions of Uganda?
ANS: Apac was chosen because it has a prevalence of HIV of 8.2%which is above the national HIV prevalence of 6.4%,
Apac is ranked among one of the district(s) with high prevalence of Malaria in Uganda partly because it’s a highly swampy district that also creates a favourable ground for breeding of mosquitoes, it’s one of the districts targeted by the presidential malaria initiative (PMI). It is also one of the districts recovering from the war that happened in Northern Uganda.
Qn: 6 For the last two decades TASO has been known for its excellent HIV/AIDS work, are you now bringing on board Malaria as well?
ANS: Just like other diseases that attack people with HIV, people with HIV/AIDS are more prone to more severe forms of malaria than the general population.
Secondly the strategy now is to move towards comprehensive care and treatment as opposed to treating one disease.
Qn: 7 How has the community responded to the Project so far?
ANS: The response from the community has been very good. Part of the community members like the village heath teams and Local councilors are actually working together with teams on ground to move from home to home. The village heath teams also move ahead of the counseling team to do mobilization of members in the next homes,
Qn 8 What contribution do you think this Project will make towards TASO’s overall mission and vision?
ANS: As part of contribution to the Mission and Vision of TASO, all the people who turn out to be HIV Negative (majority) are counselled to remain negative, and those who turn out Positive are counseled towards positive prevention but also in partnership with the district they are referred to receive care and treatment so as to improve on their quality of life.
Qn 9 What other issues would like the Public (Local, National and International) to know about the Project?
ANS: Prevention of HIV should begin by each one getting to know their HIV Sero-status, so that those who are HIV Negative remain negative and those are positive are counseled towards positive prevention. In Order to increase the number of people who know their HIV Status in Uganda and elsewhere, strategies that increase accessibility services like the home to home HIV Counselling and testing need to be given attention and focus. This is what the rural Apac project has come to do.