June 2021 LabCoP ECHO Session: Generating Demand for HIV Viral Load Testing Through Targeted Communications Campaigns

June 24, 2021

LabCoP’s June 2021 ECHO session focussed on generating demand for HIV viral load (VL) testing through targeted communications campaigns. WHO recommends at least one annual VL test for each person on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) as this is essential in monitoring if treatment is working. Generally, knowledge around the importance of VL tests as well as test uptake remains low among people living with HIV/AIDS across countries. To better understand and address this, select country teams, with support from ASLM and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), rolled out tailored campaigns to raise awareness around routine VL testing among communities of people living with HIV. In this session, four country teams shared illustrative examples and preliminary outcomes of their campaigns. The introductory presentation was made by Pontsho Pilane, a Communication Consultant with ITPC, who highlighted countries involved, objectives, and key lessons. Presenters included Gloria Kerubo from the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV in Kenya (NEPHAK); Idrissa Songo, Executive Director, Network of HIV Positives in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS); Ange Mavula from Union Congolaise des Organisations des Personnes vivant avec VIH (UCOP+); and Tonderai Mwareka from the Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV (ZNNP+). They shared their experiences in creating demand for VL test through the use of various tools and approaches. Some of the challenges shared included the choice of media platforms with limited access by some sections of the population, use of multiple languages in the base population, and estimating reach especially when using the radio platform. This information may also be of relevance to those interested in public-private partnerships. Please follow the links here to view the recorded ECHO session and download the presentation slides.