HCMC, May 17-19.
HIV community-based organizations (CBOs) play a critical role in reaching vulnerable populations and providing essential services. It is crucial for these organizations to equip their outreach workers with lay testing skills for HIV outreach, counseling, screening, and testing, especially considering the challenge of high staff turnover. Last week, LADDERS organized a HIV lay-test training workshop, bringing together 32 new, enthusiastic and dedicated young community outreach workers from 8 DOMEs and CBOs in Ho Chi Minh City. This workshop aimed to empower these individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct HIV testing within their communities, effectively reaching out to those most at risk and reducing the stigma associated with the disease.
The 3-day workshop covered a wide range of topics, including the basics of HIV virology, modes of transmission, and the importance of early detection. The participants engaged in interactive sessions, where they learned about the different types of HIV tests (Mylan and Alere Combo), their accuracy, and the appropriate counseling techniques to support individuals undergoing the rapid testing. They were provided with practical demonstrations, hands-on practice, and role-playing exercises to simulate real-life scenarios they might encounter during testing sessions.
The trainers, who are doctors and experts from Ho Chi Minh City CDC, shared their expertise, experiences, and best practices with the participants, nurturing a sense of confidence and competence in their ability to perform HIV lay-testing effectively. The trainers emphasized the importance of maintaining privacy, confidentiality, and non-judgmental attitudes throughout the testing process, ensuring a safe and supportive environment for individuals seeking testing services. Moreover, the workshop placed great emphasis on the significance of community engagement and partnership, particularly through the C2P mechanism. Participants were encouraged to build strong relationships with local healthcare facilities, and other related partners to ensure a continuum of care for those identified with HIV.
By training outreach workers in lay testing, community-based organizations can maintain a consistent level of community-based service delivery, capacitating outreach workers to conduct HIV testing consistently and to standard. These exercises are necessary to mitigate the potential negative impacts of staff turnover and continue delivering vital HIV services to those who need them most.
Figure 1,2,3. By the end of the workshop, the 32 young community outreach workers emerged as new capable HIV lay-testers. Each participant trained with hands-on experience conducting the HIV rapid tests.