Research suggests that people living with HIV are more likely to have mental health conditions than the general population. There seems to be consensus that HIV programmes would benefit from including better mental health screening and support services. Two new policy documents – the Mental Health Policy Framework and the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs – have a lot to say about providing such integrated services, but will they result in actual changes on the ground? Thabo Molelekwa reports.
South Africa has been using HIV Rapid Diagnostic Tests (Finger prick same-day testing) for years. Now, the National Department of Health has decided to align with the World Health Organization’s recommendation of a new three-test algorithm to ensure accuracy of results. René Sparks unpacks why this is important.
South Africa’s new National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs 2023-2028 and the country’s TB Recovery Plan necessitate a sharp increase in TB testing and increased enrolment into care, which will require additional spending on testing and medicines. Sihle Mahonga Ndawonde argues that a joint committee should be set up to review and interrogate provincial departments’ resource allocation decisions for the next three years.
While there is a long way to go, there has been important progress in South Africa’s response to tuberculosis (TB) and 2023 is set up to be a watershed year for the fight against the disease both globally and in South Africa. As we commemorate World TB Day, let us all pledge to make this year’s theme a reality – “Yes! You and I can end TB”, write Gaurang Tanna and Yogan Pillay.
South Africa’s new National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs is being developed this year. Spotlight editor Marcus Low asks what we should aim for in the new strategy and how we should go about developing it.
As was the case in the rest of the country, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the tuberculosis (TB) response in the Free State. Refilwe Mochoari gathered the available numbers and asked the province’s health department about their plans to get the TB response back on track.
If South Africa wants to strengthen the prevention arm of its HIV programme, which it definitely should, providing comprehensive sex education in schools and training teachers to deliver this curriculum will be vital. It is important that the HIV/AIDS Life Skills Grant, as one of the key pieces of a broader HIV prevention strategy, be supported and strengthened, argue Mbali Baduza and Julia Chaskalson.
Already very long waiting times for gender-affirming surgery in South Africa’s public sector have gotten even longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tiyese Jeranji investigates the challenges transgender persons in the country face in accessing gender-affirming care.
Despite the global emergence of highly resistant strains of gonorrhoea, including untreatable variants, a new antibiotic for the disease has not been developed in over half a century. In January, a trial began in South Africa and other countries for a new gonorrhoea antibiotic. But what is gonorrhoea? How significant is the problem in South Africa and among those living with HIV? Do we have resistant strains too? Experts report a grim situation, but with hope on the horizon. Amy Green reports.