EDITORIAL: With elections and NHI, this is a big year for healthcare in SA

EDITORIAL: With elections and NHI, this is a big year for healthcare in SA

South Africa is barrelling towards its most consequential and most competitive national and provincial elections since 1994. Spotlight editor Marcus Low asks what is on the line in these elections from a healthcare perspective and argues that the stakes are particularly high when it comes to NHI and the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provincial health departments.

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Opinion: This is how SA can meet its HIV targets

Opinion: This is how SA can meet its HIV targets

To respond to the call to end AIDS by 2030, Dr Yogan Pillay argues it is firstly critical to agree on what we mean by ending AIDS. Secondly, he suggests it is important to have accurate and granular data that can inform a more targeted approach to reaching those people that the health system typically does not reach.

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Analysis: Where we are with NIMART 13 years later

Analysis: Where we are with NIMART 13 years later

Once South Africa had closed the door on state-sponsored AIDS denialism in 2008, a critical question was how to offer HIV treatment to as many eligible people as possible as quickly as possible. Given that the health system did not have enough doctors for the job, it was decided in 2010 to rope in nurses to help out. Tiyese Jeranji asks where things stand with Nurse Initiated and Managed Antiretroviral treatment (NIMART) 13 years later.

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Interview: “I used that anger to feed my activist’s soul,” says former TAC General Secretary

Interview: “I used that anger to feed my activist’s soul,” says former TAC General Secretary

In 2001, at age 22, Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola joined the Treatment Action Campaign in its fight to bring antiretrovirals to South Africa. Today, she walks the streets of Geneva in Switzerland to get to her job as head of the Global Fund’s community, rights and gender department. Biénne Huisman spoke with Dubula-Majola about her remarkable journey, balancing activism with diplomacy, and the struggle “to build and regain the dignity of poor people around the globe”.

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Integrating HIV and NCD care is critical but not straight-forward, clinicians say

Integrating HIV and NCD care is critical but not straight-forward, clinicians say

With the remarkable success of antiretroviral treatment people living with HIV in South Africa are generally living much longer than they did two decades ago. As a result, more people with HIV are also now living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension. Accordingly, the need to better integrate HIV and NCD services was a hot topic at the recent Southern African HIV Clinicians Society conference in Cape Town. Elri Voigt reports.

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Opinion: SA can’t afford proposed cuts to HIV funding

Opinion: SA can’t afford proposed cuts to HIV funding

National Treasury has proposed a R1 billion cut to HIV funding. This has come about because – rather than seeing the reduced price of antiretroviral treatment as an opportunity to scale up treatment coverage and strengthen other interventions to address the HIV epidemic – the Department of Health has seen it as an opportunity for cost-containment. However, the HIV epidemic is not over and savings owing to cost reductions should not simply be returned to Treasury, argue Matshidiso Lencoasa and Mila Harding.

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Interview: From a pig farm in Zim to star HIV researcher- Prof LGB reflects on her remarkable journey

Interview: From a pig farm in Zim to star HIV researcher- Prof LGB reflects on her remarkable journey

Inside Professor Linda-Gail Bekker’s office a bookshelf is stacked with titles on general medicine, HIV and tuberculosis. Against the bookshelf, a mannequin leans dressed in a white doctor’s coat, sparkling tiara and pink Venetian mask, with a stethoscope protruding from her pocket. Known to colleagues as LGB, Bekker is one of South Africa’s top HIV researchers. Biénne Huisman chatted to Bekker about her remarkable career, finding new ways to reach young people, her love of both art and science and the thinking behind the slogan “get ripped, get prepped”.

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Analysis: Amid budget constraints, tough choices for SA’s HIV response

Analysis: Amid budget constraints, tough choices for SA’s HIV response

Around 13% of South Africa’s population are living with HIV and the country has the world’s largest HIV treatment programme. The country’s finances are however under huge pressure and significant cuts were recently announced to government’s HIV budget. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks what a new HIV Investment Case can tell us about the possible paths forward.

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In-depth: How do long-acting HIV treatments work?

In-depth: How do long-acting HIV treatments work?

Researchers have been trying to develop antiretroviral medicines that can last for weeks, months or even years per dose. Two such long-acting formulations have been approved in South Africa, but several more are on the horizon. Elri Voigt explores the science behind what makes a formulation long-acting and takes a look at some particularly exciting prospects.

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Many in Eastern Cape still denied health services despite some improvements, report finds

Many in Eastern Cape still denied health services despite some improvements, report finds

That some people are being denied healthcare services because they do not have identity documents or transfer letters is one of the headline findings of community-led clinic monitoring project Ritshidze’s third report on healthcare services in the Eastern Cape. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.

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Free State bottom of the list when it comes to multi-month dispensing of ARVs, survey finds

Free State bottom of the list when it comes to multi-month dispensing of ARVs, survey finds

The latest report published by community-led clinic monitoring group Ritshidze shows that the Free State is the worst-performing province in South Africa when it comes to giving people enough antiretrovirals to last several months at a time. This means people living with HIV in the province have to go collect their medicines more frequently than people in other provinces. Refilwe Mochoari reports.

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OPINION: A new African HIV Control Working Group to propel African voices in the global HIV response

OPINION: A new African HIV Control Working Group to propel African voices in the global HIV response

It is estimated that over 65% of the global HIV burden is in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, in an attempt to propel African voices and perspectives in the next phase of the HIV response in Africa, a group of Africans established an African-led HIV control working group (HCWG). They are all experts from the continent who have come together to develop consensus perspectives on the long-term sustained control of HIV and prioritise the systems and capabilities to achieve it. Drs Yogan Pillay and Izukanji Sikazwe explain the thinking behind the new working group and set out their objectives.

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