2023 was a busy year for healthcare in South Africa. We saw several promising policy developments, landmark court cases, important pieces of legislation, and some changes in leadership. Yet, take a step back and at facility level little seems to have changed. Shortages of healthcare workers persist, corruption is still rife, budgets tight, and our health governance crisis remains as acute as ever. Marcus Low looks back at the year in health in fewer than 1 000 words.
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.
Last year Spotlight reported that pilot projects testing out a new HIV prevention injection and a vaginal ring in South Africa would start early in 2023. Yet, as delegates gathered for the SA AIDS Conference in Durban last week, those pilots hadn’t yet started. Alicestine October and Elri Voigt have the latest on the state of play with these critical projects.
New research shows a quick-dissolving, rectal suppository designed to prevent HIV infection is safe, although its efficacy remains to be tested in clinical trials, some of which will be conducted in South Africa. Still, the findings released late Tuesday could herald the start of a new “take as needed” era in HIV prevention.
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.
HIV prevention pills are becoming more widely available in South Africa and the country is set to soon start piloting the use of an HIV prevention injection. But merely having these tools available in clinics and other places does not mean people will use them. Thabo Molelekwa asked several experts what behaviour change communications should look like in this new era of HIV prevention.
Dr Thesla Palanee-Phillips is the Director of Clinical Trials at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) at the University of the Witwatersrand. As part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series, Elri Voigt spoke to her about what set her off into a career in science, the significance of the ASPIRE trial that she co-chaired, and juggling motherhood and her career.
One of the hot topics at the recently concluded AIDS 2022 conference held in Montreal, Canada, was how HIV prevention interventions such as pills or injections that prevent HIV infection should be made available to different groups of people. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to some local experts and an activist about the rich set of discussions.
The world stands at an inflection point once more in the war against HIV. For those of us working in the field in South Africa, especially, it feels eerily like the battle that was fought 25 years ago, writes Dr Liesl Page-Shipp.
Juliet Houghton was recently appointed as the CEO of the Southern African HIV Clinician’s Society (SAHCS). As part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series, Bienne Huisman spoke to her about her life working in HIV, her new role at the SAHCS, the importance of being able to laugh, and the Shakespearian origins of her name.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority recently approved the use of the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring for women 18 years and older to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Thabo Molelekwa looks at the evidence for the ring’s efficacy and asks what plans there are for making it available to women in South Africa.
There is no time to waste in planning the South African rollout of cabotegravir (CAB LA), the long-lasting antiretroviral injection approved for use in the United States in December 2021, say local health experts.