In-depth: Top 10 health issues to watch in 2022

In-depth: Top 10 health issues to watch in 2022

COVID-19 will continue to dominate headlines in 2022, but from National Health Insurance to the availability of a new HIV prevention injection, it will also be an important year for other areas of health service delivery and for health system governance and reforms. Here is Spotlight’s pick of the top ten issues to keep an eye on.

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Health in 2021: Another tumultuous year in under a thousand words

Health in 2021: Another tumultuous year in under a thousand words

It wasn’t rocket science when we predicted at the start of 2021 that South Africa’s biggest challenge this year would be to get COVID-19 shots into as many arms as possible. But the way it has played out with multiple setbacks and scrambling problem-solving is not something anyone could have predicted. In fewer than a thousand words, Spotlight editor Marcus Low takes a look back at a tumultuous year in health in South Africa.

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IN PICTURES: Two decades of HIV  in South Africa

IN PICTURES: Two decades of HIV in South Africa

We reflect in pictures South Africa’s journey in the struggle against HIV since 2000.

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Forty years on, HIV still taking a toll on young people

Forty years on, HIV still taking a toll on young people

“Driving a fast car”; “getting the top three letters”; or “playing the lotto” – nearly 40 years from when HIV was first described, the virus is still a thing of euphemism and stigma. It’s also still infecting at least 4 000 people a day around the world, most of them young people, especially girls and young women. Ufrieda Ho reports.

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INTERVIEW: Dr Thembisile Xulu on a year at the head of SANAC

INTERVIEW: Dr Thembisile Xulu on a year at the head of SANAC

On World AIDS Day, Dr Thembisile Xulu, CEO of the South African AIDS Council will share a podium with Deputy President David Mabuza for the country’s official commemoration event in Limpopo. Bienne Huisman spoke to her about how she settled into the CEO role and what keeps her busy.

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Are two medicines instead of three the future of HIV treatment?

Are two medicines instead of three the future of HIV treatment?

One of the biggest breakthroughs in HIV treatment in the 1990s came when three different antiretrovirals were used together, suppressing viral replication in multiple ways and preventing the development of drug resistance. Now, trials are showing that certain combinations of just two antiretrovirals might be as good as three, potentially bringing an end to a quarter of a century of triple therapy dominance. Elri Voigt reports.

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Opinion: We should make it much easier for people to start and stay on HIV treatment

Opinion: We should make it much easier for people to start and stay on HIV treatment

The top priority in our HIV programme should be to make it as easy as possible for people to start and stay on treatment. Yet, as a number of provincial reports released this year by community monitoring group Ritshidze have shown, there are many healthcare system factors that work directly against this objective. Spotlight editor Marcus Low considers some of the potential solutions.

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OPINION: How to capitalise on the opportunity of COVID-19 vaccination sites

OPINION: How to capitalise on the opportunity of COVID-19 vaccination sites

To combat COVID-19, our country has been able to move millions of people through vaccination sites each month, creating a potential ‘one-stop shop’ for vital health check-ups. In this, healthcare workers have an unprecedented opportunity to reach people they may not otherwise have access to, such as those living with HIV, writes Dhirisha Naidoo.

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Opinion: Funding must be allocated to treat drivers of HIV

Opinion: Funding must be allocated to treat drivers of HIV

If South Africa wants to strengthen the prevention arm of its HIV programme, which it definitely should, providing comprehensive sex education in schools and training teachers to deliver this curriculum will be vital. It is important that the HIV/AIDS Life Skills Grant, as one of the key pieces of a broader HIV prevention strategy, be supported and strengthened, argue Mbali Baduza and Julia Chaskalson.

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Modest improvement at dysfunctional Gauteng clinics, report finds

Modest improvement at dysfunctional Gauteng clinics, report finds

Although a new community healthcare monitoring report notes some improvement in filling vacancies at Gauteng clinics, concerns remain over staff shortages and the impact this has on providing quality care, especially to people living with HIV. Thabo Molelekwa reports.

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HPV: What is happening with SA’s other relatively new vaccine programme?

HPV: What is happening with SA’s other relatively new vaccine programme?

In 2014, South Africa launched an HPV vaccination campaign targeting 9-year-old public school learners in Grade 4. It involves delivering two doses of vaccine six months apart. Laura Owings asks how the campaign is going and what recent real-world HPV vaccine effectiveness data from the United Kingdom might mean for South Africa.

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Staff shortages and long waiting times plague KZN health, report finds

Staff shortages and long waiting times plague KZN health, report finds

While KwaZulu-Natal is doing comparatively well on key HIV indicators, the public healthcare system in the province is plagued by staff shortages, long waiting times, poor tuberculosis infection control, and in some cases, dysfunctional filing systems. This is according to a new report from community-led monitoring group Ritshidze. Elri Voigt reports.

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