A humanist with an unblinking gaze – Professor Ntobeko Ntusi takes the hot-seat at the South African Medical Research Council

Professor Ntobeko Ntusi may be softspoken, but he is not afraid to stand by his strongly held views. As he is set to take up the hot-seat at the country’s primary health research funder, he tells Spotlight’s Biénne Huisman about his background and his priorities for the new job.

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Interview: From a pig farm in Zim to star HIV researcher- Prof LGB reflects on her remarkable journey

Inside Professor Linda-Gail Bekker’s office a bookshelf is stacked with titles on general medicine, HIV and tuberculosis. Against the bookshelf, a mannequin leans dressed in a white doctor’s coat, sparkling tiara and pink Venetian mask, with a stethoscope protruding from her pocket. Known to colleagues as LGB, Bekker is one of South Africa’s top HIV researchers. Biénne Huisman chatted to Bekker about her remarkable career, finding new ways to reach young people, her love of both art and science and the thinking behind the slogan “get ripped, get prepped”.

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HIV vaccine research set to change focus in wake of Mosaico disappointment

Top South African HIV clinicians are setting their sights on different approaches to finding an HIV vaccine after the “disappointing” news that the Mosaico trial was stopped early because the vaccine did not show any efficacy. The search for an HIV jab now seems set to pivot from vaccines that induce T-cell immunity to ones that induce B-cell immunity. Adele Baleta unpacks what that means and the reasoning behind it.

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In-depth: What should behaviour change efforts look like in the PrEP era?

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.

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Pilot projects set to inform rollout of HIV prevention shot

South Africa is expected to begin piloting the HIV prevention injection early next year as one of several projects that experts hope will reveal the answers to some of the biggest questions about the future of the shot – who will deliver the injection, where, and how to sell people on the idea that just six shots a year could protect them from HIV. Laura Lopez Gonzalez reports.

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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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Are youth-only clinics the answer to better healthcare for young people?

Special youth clinics appear to be an effective means of providing healthcare services to young people who otherwise might not engage with healthcare services. But is building more youth clinics realistic given our resource constraints, or is it better to focus on making ‘normal’ clinics more youth-friendly – or should we be looking beyond clinic-based healthcare services altogether? Tiyese Jeranji investigates.

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Study suggests potential role for bnAbs in treating kids living with HIV

Broadly neutralising antibodies (bnAbs) are one of the most active and exciting areas in HIV research. Last year Spotlight reported on a “proof of concept” study showing that a specific bnAb can successfully prevent infection with certain strains of HIV. Now, we also have intriguing findings suggesting that bnAbs may have a role to play in the treatment of HIV in children. Elri Voigt reports.

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Programme delivers comprehensive HIV prevention and SRH services to learners

Even though the rate of new HIV infections in young women and adolescent girls remains stubbornly high, provision and uptake of pills that can prevent HIV infection have generally been slow and lagging. One potential solution presented at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections is to provide the pills at schools. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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