According to new estimates from the World Health Organization around 61 000 people died of TB in South Africa in 2020, an increase of around 5% over 2019. That works out to over 1 100 TB deaths in the country every week. We urgently need a transparent TB recovery plan and we need both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Joe Phaahla to invest real political capital in the implementation of the plan, the authors argue.
From March to July this year, the Gauteng Department of Health recorded 57 848 TB tests – a decrease of about 30 000 tests compared to the same period last year. The province performed better with HIV testing, although the HIV response has faltered in other areas. Melissa Javan makes sense of the province’s numbers and speaks to activists and community health workers about the impact of lockdown on their services and plans to get things back on track.
Children shoulder approximately 12% of the global TB burden, and this proportion is likely higher in high TB burden countries. In South Africa, up to 30 000 children develop TB each year. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to TB expert, Dr Megan Palmer from Brooklyn Chest Hospital about treatment challenges and how to improve TB detection and treatment outcomes in children.
Two decades since Doctors without Borders (MSF) started its HIV programme in Khayelitsha, the organisation will start wrapping up its operations. Siyabonga Kamnqa spoke to some people living with HIV who benefitted from this programme and who now work as activists about developments over the last 20 years.
If South Africa is forced to go into a COVID-19 lockdown again, HIV support groups and adherence clubs should remain functional to make sure that everyone is supported, has regular access to information and treatment, and that people are motivated to adhere to treatment, argue Annah Maluleke and Solanga Milambo.
In 2018, Cabinet adopted a new intellectual property policy for South Africa, but as yet the policy has not led to any change in the country’s patent laws. Amending these laws as soon as possible is critical to both the COVID-19 and HIV response, argues Umunyana Rugege.
The U=U campaign is based on a simple message – an undetectable viral load in people living with HIV equals an untransmissible virus. The U=U campaign, argues Mandisa Dukashe, has the power to motivate people living with HIV to adhere to ARVs, achieve viral suppression, and subsequently lead long and healthy lives while preventing HIV transmission to sexual partners and their babies.
Some tuberculosis patients in South Africa are still required to take their pills in front of a healthcare worker or family member. Is this a justified means of ensuring people take their medicine, or is it an invasion of personal autonomy? Elri Voigt asked local TB experts.
A recent announcement about a vaginal ring to prevent HIV has AIDS activists and women’s sexual and reproductive health advocates excited. But where would this ring fit in South Africa’s HIV prevention programme? Amy Green investigates.
Thanks to community-led monitoring in South Africa, we now have the data to back up the stories we have all heard about – early morning queues that last all day long when clinics fail to open on time and then also close early, writes Anele Yawa and Lotti Rutter.