A new technologically-advanced mobile HIV testing clinic has been launched in a bid to encourage more people to test for the disease.

The pilot project by the Health Department and non-governmental organisation Shout It Now will see trucks equipped with advanced technology deployed to various areas in Gauteng.

Fighting the AIDS pandemic through technology, Shout It Now is moving from mobile tents to hi-tech mobile trucks.

To get tested, clients begin by punching in their personal details, like ID and cell phone numbers, on the computer screen of the truck’s kiosk. Their details are captured through biometrics in order to keep track of their record.

Getting tested can take as little as 10 minutes with results being shared via sms. Those who test positive are then sent to another truck, where they receive necessary assistance.

“The Dr will draw blood, counsel you and if you are eligible, you will walk out with ARV’s right then and there.  At that point or call centre will call you because we have your number. We follow you up to see whether you’re doing well or not. How are you doing with treatments? Do you have any questions about the treatment? And make sure your feeling supported. What we need to do is make sure you also go to a clinic, so we give you referral forms to a clinic,” says Shout it Now’s Bruce Forgrieve.

The project aims to process up to 250 clients a day in previously inaccessible areas. The Health Department has welcomed the pilot project and hopes it will ease the burden on the health system.

The health department’s Dr Yogan Pillay says it hopes to reach men and young people who rarely test for the disease.

“So we still need innovative ways to get to the last mile. For people who typically don’t test, don’t know their status; and we know that it’s largely men and young people. So a mobile service that takes this service to people is exactly what we need. However this testing is clearly not enough, we need to link people to test and that’s another advantage of this mobile.”

The project has already been tested in Ekurhuleni, and will for the next six months travel across South Africa as it tries to identify areas where it is most needed.