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.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the remarkable power of genomics in helping us keep track of new viral variants. Several scientists argue that Africa should continue to invest in genomics to support disease control and public health. Sue Segar asks what this means in practice and why it is considered so critically important.
A vaginal ring used to prevent HIV infection is safe to use during late pregnancy and while breastfeeding, according to findings presented at a major international HIV conference in Seattle in the United States. The news comes as South Africa prepares for a likely national rollout of the ring and as more research confirms the safety of an HIV prevention pill during pregnancy. It is estimated that offering these products to pregnant and breastfeeding women could avert up to 136 000 new infections in roughly the next decade. Laura Lopez Gonzalez reports.
A study published last year on an HIV variant that has been circulating in the Netherlands for the last 20 years reminded the public of the existence of viral variants beyond SARS-CoV-2. Elri Voigt unpacks what we know about the HI-virus, its variants, and the study’s findings.
South Africa’s HIV testing programme has been a huge success over the last decade, largely due to the use of rapid tests. Now, the introduction of a new generation of rapid tests may offer some benefits over the current tests, but the picture is somewhat complicated and the Department of Health is not currently planning to use the new tests. Amy Green investigates.
Antibiotics play a vital role in the management of bacterial infections, reducing illness, and preventing many deaths. A 2011 report from the UK estimated that they have increased life expectancy by 20 years. However, the extensive use of antibiotics has resulted in drug resistance that threatens to reverse their life-saving power and if the situation is not reversed, it has been estimated that by 2050 as many as 10 million people will die annually of drug-resistant infections. Tiyese Jeranji looks at how antimicrobial resistance plays out in South Africa and the role of pharmacists in the fight against it.
Professor Wendy Stevens believes ‘completely in the honesty of science’ and this, she says, has landed her in the naughty corner many times throughout her career. Biénne Huisman spoke to Stevens – a global leader in HIV and TB laboratory medicine about her career, what you choose when science and politics collide, and the value of swimming upstream.
When Novel Chegou first arrived in Stellenbosch from Cameroon in 2004 he sold African crafts at a stall next to the town’s village green to save money for his studies. Today, Professor Chegou is one of South Africa’s leading tuberculosis researchers. Biénne Huisman caught up with Chegou shortly after the announcement that he had been awarded the Royal Society Africa Prize.
When Professor Petro Terblanche joined biotechnology start-up Afrigen three years ago, she had no idea that the team she was heading up would create the continent’s first mRNA vaccine. But that wasn’t the first time Terblanche had been at the forefront of cutting-edge scientific work. Aisha Abdool Karim spoke to her as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.
Indications are that the virus that causes COVID-19 is going to continue evolving and escaping the protection against infection people already have. Researchers are working on next-generation vaccines tailored to fight off specific versions of the virus, like the Omicron sub-lineages BA.4 and BA.5. But can these new vaccines be tested and produced fast enough to keep up with the rapidly changing virus? Aisha Abdool Karim asked some local experts.
Omicron and its sub-variants have been dominating new surges of SARS-CoV-2 infections around the world and were behind South Africa’s fifth wave. The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages unveiled yet more surprises about the evasive nature of these ever-emerging forms of SARS-CoV-2. They also hold clues for what to expect next and how to prepare. Aisha Abdool Karim reports.