HIV/AIDS and TB in South Africa

Hospersa’s commitment to HIV/Aids and TB is unwavering, and the union has sought to address HIV/Aids and TB at all levels. Our contributions towards policy development are evident at national and International level. We have developed training programmes and publications, offering accurate information and quality training to our shop stewards around HIV/Aids – and now TB.

Hospersa also plays an active role in ensuring that workers gain access to Voluntary Counselling and Testing for HIV within broader Wellness Screening programmes.

The union has elected office bearers at both national and provincial level, who champion HIV/Aids and TB issues in the union and on the ground at workplaces, where it matters most.

Hospersa regularly spearheads campaigns that encourage workers to regularly test their HIV and TB status.

The union also regularly engages with employers around improvements in their HIV/Aids and TB workplace responses.

Hospersa discourages stigma and discrimination through education around HIV and TB.

Hospersa at forefront of rolling out health sector  HIV-TB response

International Labour Organisation Senior Technical Advisor on Health: Simphiwe Mabhele and Hospersa Executive Manager: Education & Training, Fazeela Fayers.
International Labour Organisation Senior Technical Advisor on Health: Simphiwe Mabhele and Hospersa Executive Manager: Education & Training, Fazeela Fayers.

THE National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2012-2016 identifies health care workers as a key population at risk of TB infection, and further research conducted by the University Research Co. (URC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), places health care workers at a three to eight times greater risk of acquiring TB than the general population.

About 50 000 Hospersa members work in the health sector, essentially placing 74% of our total membership at high risk of contracting TB as a result of their high occupational exposure. This, coupled with the country’s high prevalence of HIV infection, means that health care workers who do not know their HIV status are at an even greater risk and are more susceptible to contracting TB.

These compelling factors have influenced Hospersa’s continuous efforts at addressing HIV workplace programmes over the past 14 years, as well as our successful application to roll out an integrated HIV-TB response for health care workers, with the support of International partners such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the URC, USAID and TB Care ll South Africa.

The project’s goals

  • To address the vision of the NSP 2012 – 2016 : zero new HIV-TB infections, zero vertical transmission, zero preventable deaths and zero discrimination for HIV & TB.
  • To promote increased knowledge and awareness around HIV & TB, by expanding access to regular testing for HIV & TB, and by connecting health workers to the necessary care (referral).
  • To strengthen Occupational Health & Safety Measures for the Prevention and Mitigation of occupational exposure to HIV & TB in the health sector.
  • To reduce the vulnerability of young workers to HIV & TB infection, prevention and treatment through education on their predisposing risk factors.

Project Objectives

  • To conduct 18 hospital-based workplace Wellness Days in all nine provinces, targeting TB screening for 2000 health workers, HIV testing for 1000, and TB testing referrals for100.
  • To build capacity among health sector workers by conducting nine TB Training Workshops focusing on TB-HIV and Occupational Health & Safety measures.
  • To conduct two semi-structured Youth Seminars for 300 young workers, providing information, awareness and knowledge on their predisposing risk factors to HIV & TB in the health sector, with particular emphasis on prevention, behavioural change and connection to care.
  • Advocacy, communication and social mobilisation to heighten awareness and knowledge, prevent new infections, reduce HIV and TB-related stigma and discrimination, promote early HIV-TB detection and connection to care in the health sector.

Workplace Wellness Days

Hospersa Vice President: Gender & HIV, Gregg Rafferty, and his team of nine provincial Vice-Chairpersons: Gender and HIV, forged ahead with arranging and implementing successful workplace Wellness Days, with significant uptake on TB Screening and HIV counselling and testing services. The Wellness Days yielded the desired results, attracting people to ascertain their HIV status despite the often long queues while waiting to do so.

TB Training sessions

Three-day TB training sessions were rolled out and jointly facilitated by the URC and Hospersa in all nine provinces, with the first two days covering the most current TB information and content compiled by the URC, and the last day emphasising occupational health & safety measures.

Posters and Information Flyers

Hospersa, in collaboration with USAID and TB Care ll South Africa, developed posters and flyers highlighting health care workers as a key population for TB infection and promoting improved occupational health and safety measures in the health sector. The material also provided information on reporting TB as an occupational disease.

Youth Seminars

Two Youth Seminars were convened: one at Mpumalanga Nurses College and another at the Excelsius Nursing College in North West province. Going forward, Hospersa will be lobbying for the inclusion of HIV&TB content knowledge to form part of the nursing curriculum – as well as to engage the youth in surveys, and the possible formation of a support network for the young health care workers.

Nurses Day

Hospersa also ensured that its HIV-TB campaign messages were communicated at events held during May to celebrate International Nurses Day. All provinces hosted events at various hospitals throughout the country, where HIV&TB awareness was highlighted, particularly the need for early detection and treatment… click here for the 2017 message…  NURSES- A VOICE TO LEAD, ACHIEVING THE SDG’s

Launch of an HIV/TB Workers Guide for the Health Sector

In June 2015, Hospersa was proud to launch A Workers’ Guide – Addressing HIV & TB in the Workplace (An integrated approach for the Health Sector. It is the first such workers guide in South Africa, spearheaded by workers, for workers.

HOSPERSA  maintains that a HIV-TB prevention disaster is in full progress amongst the health workforce. This lies squarely at the failure of Government to provide Occupational Health Protection , a fundamental right of health care workers… click WAD 2017 for more.