An interactive map that uses an address to locate the nearest HIV testing facilities in South Africa has become the latest tool in the government’s national campaign against the spread of HIV.

The map is part of the countrywide HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign (HCT) launched in April by the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and the Department of Health to test 15 million sexually active individuals in South Africa by 2011. The web map is used to search for the location of HIV testing facilities nearby a home or work address.
Sponsored by digital mapping company MapIT for the map-based HIV strategic response project, the ‘Compass Project,’ the map will be used by both government and non-governmental organisations to promote a culture of responsibility.
“Interactive mapping is a simple solution to a complex problem,” says Etienne Louw, MD of MapIT. “The map offers ordinary people a simple way to find a convenient testing facility, and will solve the problem of identifying HIV testing facilities across South Africa for millions of people over the next 18 months and beyond. We are proud to be part of this very important initiative and to be able to utilise our technology to assist and make it easier for the man in the street to ‘do the right thing’.”
Janine Mitchell, head of the Compass Project, says that the easily accessible map will encourage people to take responsibility for a national problem.
“The national department of health launched the campaign, but we can’t only rely on government to spread the word about Aids awareness,” says Mitchell. “Government is only one role player among many. Individually and collectively, we are all responsible, and the map points people in this direction.”
Mitchell adds that the Compass Project is linking the map to a variety of different websites, including government and NGO sites.
“The map is easy to use,” says Louw. “All you have to do is enter your address, and the map will show you the five nearest HIV testing facilities to that address.”
A click on any of these five facilities will show the location of that site on the map, together with its name, phone number and the distance of the facility from the address.