Trip to the North: Update on ASC Ethiopia's Testing, Care Clinics

African Services' co-executive director Kim Nichols recently returned from yet another eventful trip to Ethiopia, where she witnessed first hand all the exciting things she had been hearing about ASC's HIV testing and care clinics. Nichols' visit primarily focused on trips throughout the northern region of the country where ASC's three oldest clinics operate: Addis Ababa's Shola MarketKombolcha, and Mekele.

"The act of driving from one site to another over such rugged terrain -- roughly 800 km -- was definitely one feature of the trip," Nichols said.


The clinics, though quite a distance apart, have changed and grown through the years in similar ways. Some changes involved making existing programs more efficient, some involved new staff for new initiatives. Many of the staff hired at the onset still work there, providing valuable experience to newer hires. One achievement is the ever-increasing professionalization of the clinics due to the increase in hired health officers.  


ASC operates five HIV testing and care clinics in Ethiopia providing free HIV counseling and testing to more than 100,000 people annually through centers at Shola Market in Addis AbabaKombolchaMekeleHawassa, andZeway. Since our inception, we have distributed nearly three million free condoms. Together with rapid, free and confidential HIV testing, ASC has made significant strides in normalizing testing and easing the stigma of HIV.


Helping commercial sex workers (CSWs) -- who are active clients of African Services Committee -- is an area ASC reports significant progress. CSWs are regular clients who come to our clinics for free condoms, to participate in peer support discussions, as well as for care and support services. Since 2013, ASC provided services to a total of 262 new CSWs, in Addis Ababa, 20, Kombolcha, 47, Mekele, 90, and in the other two clinics of Zeway, 38 and Hawassa, 67.


We also recently initiated a sheep fattening, micro-lending project. This empowering program promotes gender equality by allowing women to profit from their sheep. More than one hundred women currently participate in this PEPFAR grant-supported initiative. The selected women received training in the care and importance of vaccinating and providing their new animals with a protein-rich diet. We will be sure to keep you posted as this exciting new program develops.