The good doctor: Mark Blaylock on finding meaning back at Manguzi

In December 2008, Dr Mark Blaylock left South Africa after a high-profile spat with then-Health MEC of KwaZulu-Natal Peggy Nkonyeni. The affair was sparked by Blaylock’s colleague Colin Pfaff being charged with misconduct for sourcing funding for antiretroviral drugs for pregnant women living with HIV. Four years later, Blaylock was back at Manguzi District Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Sue Segar chatted to Blaylock about his years outside of South Africa, returning to Manguzi, and how healthcare in KwaZulu-Natal has changed over the years.

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Over 4.7m people in SA placed on new HIV med in four years

In what is likely one of the largest treatment rollouts in South African history, well over four million people living with HIV have started taking the antiretroviral dolutegravir since its introduction around four years ago. Now, according to a recent study published in the Lancet medical journal, use of dolutegravir in South Africa is associated with more people staying on treatment and higher rates of viral suppression. Elri Voigt unpacks the study findings and assesses progress in the country’s switch to dolutegravir-based HIV treatment.

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SA AIDS 2023: New treatments and guidelines to benefit kids, with more advances on the horizon

The 11th SA AIDS conference, recently held in Durban, highlighted the worrying fact that key HIV numbers such as treatment coverage are much lower in children than in adults. But as Elri Voigt reports, conference delegates also heard about new treatments and guidelines that will make life easier for kids and the exciting potential of several new long-acting experimental treatments.

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Experts welcome new HIV treatments for kids

New child-friendly formulations of several important antiretroviral medicines were recently approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. Thabo Molelekwa asks what this means for children living with HIV in South Africa and how long it will take for these medicines to become widely available.

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Over 3million people on new HIV drug, but not all smooth sailing

In 2019, the Department of Health started providing the antiretroviral drug dolutegravir as part of HIV treatment in the public sector. Three years later, close to 3.2 million people in South Africa are taking dolutegravir every day. Even so, the rollout of dolutegravir hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Elri Voigt investigates how the massive undertaking of switching millions of people to a new drug has gone.

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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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Experts urge registration of new child-friendly ARV formulation

Children living with HIV have to take multiple different antiretroviral pills or syrups twice a day, while most adults in South Africa have been offered one pill once a day regimens for around a decade. At the recent South African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHCS) conference, various speakers argued that better treatment regimens for kids are needed urgently. Thabo Molelekwa reports.

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Opinion: When civil society can’t do its work, adherence to HIV treatment dips.

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.

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New medicines should make life easier for kids living with HIV

HIV medicines for children often taste bitter, pills are large, and for many children there is a lot of medication to take. This makes it hard to take treatment as prescribed. Tiyese Jeranji looks at the challenges with currently available HIV medicines for children, what innovations are in the pipeline, and how HIV treatment is being tailored to suit the needs of children.

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1.3m switched to new ARV, but weight gain is a concern

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.

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