It is estimated that over 65% of the global HIV burden is in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, in an attempt to propel African voices and perspectives in the next phase of the HIV response in Africa, a group of Africans established an African-led HIV control working group (HCWG). They are all experts from the continent who have come together to develop consensus perspectives on the long-term sustained control of HIV and prioritise the systems and capabilities to achieve it. Drs Yogan Pillay and Izukanji Sikazwe explain the thinking behind the new working group and set out their objectives.
In December 2022, the Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, set into motion a public participation process on the laws that govern sex work in South Africa. Marlise Richter & Pamela Chakuvinga point out that while the Bill published for public comment in December is very short, it will do something quite extraordinary if it does become law – it will fully decriminalise sex work. This, they argue, is a process we must see through.
In an open letter to young women in South Africa, Faith Fikizolo reminds us that meaningful comprehensive sex education is an important lever in ensuring girls and young women are fully empowered to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights. She argues that, due to the lack of meaningful sexuality education, many South African young women and girls lack bodily autonomy.
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.
A new study has analysed the change in the rate of new HIV infections from 2010 to 2019 and found that HIV incidence in South Africa has halved since 2010. This is mainly due to antiretroviral treatment and condom promotion, but male medical circumcision and behaviour change after HIV diagnosis had a role too, writes Leigh Johnson.
People who belong to key populations, such as men who have sex with men, often report that it is difficult for them to access health services – for example, due to negative healthcare worker attitudes. Now, a large survey published last week by community healthcare monitoring group Ritshidze provides important statistics that not only confirm that such experiences are widespread but also help in pinning down some specific issues. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
It wasn’t rocket science when we predicted at the start of 2021 that South Africa’s biggest challenge this year would be to get COVID-19 shots into as many arms as possible. But the way it has played out with multiple setbacks and scrambling problem-solving is not something anyone could have predicted. In fewer than a thousand words, Spotlight editor Marcus Low takes a look back at a tumultuous year in health in South Africa.
“Driving a fast car”; “getting the top three letters”; or “playing the lotto” – nearly 40 years from when HIV was first described, the virus is still a thing of euphemism and stigma. It’s also still infecting at least 4 000 people a day around the world, most of them young people, especially girls and young women. Ufrieda Ho reports.
Although it is necessary for the criminal justice system to prohibit and punish conduct that is harmful to the public interest, criminalising exposure to or transmission of HIV goes against important public health principles, writes Sibusisiwe Ndlela.
Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) has been shown to reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 60%. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown, health authorities and organisations conducting VMMC in South Africa, say the numbers of men and boys being medically circumcised have dropped dramatically. Siyabonga Kamnqa reports.
To single out a disease through specific laws or existing prosecution mechanisms places an unreasonable burden on the criminal justice system to address people’s behaviour. Our experience with HIV points to a better approach, argues Mbalenhle Baduza.