In what Spotlight understands to be a world-first, South Africa is on the brink of allowing pharmacists with the required permits to prescribe HIV medicines without people first having to get a script from a doctor or nurse. Catherine Tomlinson investigates how it will work and why it may be just the boost the country’s HIV response needs.
Cryptococcal meningitis is the second biggest killer of people living with HIV after tuberculosis (TB). Now, a global initiative, the Ending Cryptococcal Meningitis Deaths by 2030 Strategic Framework aims to get the gold standard drug to treat cryptococcal meningitis – flucytosine – registered in countries that need it. Amy Green reports.
The growing crisis in many of South Africa’s clinics has reached a point where patient care is being compromised and there is a deepening worry that people living with HIV are being pushed out of treatment, argues Anele Yawa and Lotti Rutter. In this op-ed, they ask whether repeat prescription collection strategies are simpler and quicker than waiting in long clinic queues.
One of the biggest challenges now facing South Africa’s HIV response is how to support many more people living with HIV to engage or re-engage and then stay on treatment. One way to make it easier for people living with HIV to adhere to treatment is to provide a longer supply of medicines, argues Ndivhuwo Rambau & Simphiwe Xaba.
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikhalala praised the Umkhanyakude District recently on its ‘exceptional’ figures in meeting the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. Yet, when Spotlight recently visited the Jozini area, we were confronted with a less rosy picture. Some people stopped their HIV treatment because they do not have food to eat, and activists now warn that the progress with the targets can be derailed if poverty, hunger and other social determinants of health are not urgently and comprehensively addressed. Nomfundo Xolo reports.
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.
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.
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.
Two years after it was announced that the ARV dolutegravir would become part of standard first line HIV treatment in South Africa, it is finally reaching significant numbers of people. But new research about a worrying side-effect, weight gain (particularly in women), has muddied its otherwise stellar reputation.
The COVID-19 pandemic and South Africa’s national lockdown has exacerbated existing challenges the LGBTQI+ community and sex workers experience in accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare services. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
Under COVID-19 lockdowns in South Africa and elsewhere, many public services have been interrupted, including sexual and reproductive health services. Thuthukile Mbatha considers the heavy toll these interruptions have taken on people’s lives.
New data points to fears of contracting COVID-19 at congested health facilities as the primary reason for people not seeking needed care and defaulting on their chronic medication, including HIV treatment. Amy Green reports.