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.
HIV in South Africa is not the crisis it was 20 years ago, and the country faces a growing burden of non-communicable diseases, but specific investments in HIV nevertheless continue to offer excellent value for money for governments and donors alike. As people gather for the 2023 International AIDS Society Conference in Brisbane, Australia, Marcus Low argues that while funding for HIV interventions remains absolutely essential, it is also critical for the future of the HIV response and people living with HIV that HIV should now be better integrated with other healthcare services, especially those for diabetes and hypertension.
June is Men’s Health Month and while the focus is on men’s attitudes about their health, we have also been reflecting on the health sector’s attitudes about men. Men are not indifferent about their health and they are not inherently poor health-seekers. If many of them are avoiding healthcare services, let’s consider that it may be because they are not getting what they need from the healthcare system, writes Shawn Malone.
The 11th South African AIDS Conference – the first since COVID-19-related disruptions – kicked off on Tuesday in Durban. This year’s theme is, “Act, Connect and End the Epidemic”. Spotlight summarises some key themes that emerged from the opening ceremony and spoke to some delegates.
Despite some improvement, the community-led monitoring group Ritshidze’s second report on key populations highlights that sex workers, people who use drugs and LGBTQIA+ community members are often still discriminated against when trying to access public health facilities. This can lead to treatment interruptions and some stopping their clinic visits. Nthusang Lefafa reports.
While the Free State health department is denying that clinics in the province are experiencing stockouts of antiretroviral medicines, some healthcare users and HIV activists working in communities claim otherwise. The department does however acknowledge that some people are given only a two-week supply at a time. Refilwe Mochoari reports.
In Spotlight’s analysis of South Africa’s HIV response in recent years, two issues have stood out consistently – still too many people living with HIV are not taking antiretroviral therapy and the rate of new HIV infections in South Africa is not coming down fast enough. Accordingly, argues Spotlight editor Marcus Low, we must accelerate the shift toward an HIV response where we make testing for HIV and taking antiretroviral treatment as convenient as possible.
As we look at the year ahead, urgent work remains to build on past successes and to bring the HIV epidemic sustainably under control. Amongst others, we need to address persistent stigma and discrimination, as well as the structural and social factors that put women and girls at increased risk of HIV infection, argues Rachel Toku-Appiah.
On December 12, Ntimbwe Munongo Mpamba will celebrate his fortieth birthday with chocolate cake in Northgate, Johannesburg. He was born with HIV but only became aware of his HIV status many years later. Biénne Huisman spoke to him about living with HIV, his early years when his mother fed him medicine disguised as sweets, and now, living openly as an HIV awareness champion.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Equalise and Integrate to End AIDS”. One aspect in which more equality is needed is between the quality of HIV testing services and aiming to test as many people as possible, argues René Sparks.
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.
The AIDS2022 conference held recently in Montreal, Canada highlighted yet again the need for community activism and the importance of involving young people, writes Dr Yogan Pillay. He argues that the youth and communities must be engaged in the conceptualisation and writing of South Africa’s new AIDS plan, and young people and community-based organisations must have a central role in key aspects of its implementation.