National Treasury has proposed a R1 billion cut to HIV funding. This has come about because – rather than seeing the reduced price of antiretroviral treatment as an opportunity to scale up treatment coverage and strengthen other interventions to address the HIV epidemic – the Department of Health has seen it as an opportunity for cost-containment. However, the HIV epidemic is not over and savings owing to cost reductions should not simply be returned to Treasury, argue Matshidiso Lencoasa and Mila Harding.
Researchers have been trying to develop antiretroviral medicines that can last for weeks, months or even years per dose. Two such long-acting formulations have been approved in South Africa, but several more are on the horizon. Elri Voigt explores the science behind what makes a formulation long-acting and takes a look at some particularly exciting prospects.
The latest report published by community-led clinic monitoring group Ritshidze shows that the Free State is the worst-performing province in South Africa when it comes to giving people enough antiretrovirals to last several months at a time. This means people living with HIV in the province have to go collect their medicines more frequently than people in other provinces. Refilwe Mochoari reports.
Specially trained and accredited pharmacists in South Africa will now be allowed to dispense medicines to prevent HIV and TB and to treat uncomplicated HIV without a doctor’s script. This is because the North Gauteng High Court this week ruled against an application by a private doctors’ association attempting to block the initiative. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the judgment and rounds up some responses.
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.
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.
According to recently published estimates from Thembisa, the leading mathematical model of HIV in South Africa, around 7.8 million people, or 13.2% of the population, were living with HIV in South Africa in 2022. Marcus Low looked at the numbers and what they tell us about the state of HIV in South Africa.
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.
In August 2021, the South African Pharmacy Council published legislation in the Government Gazette to enable pharmacists to prescribe and dispense antiretroviral medicines for the treatment and prevention of HIV. A legal challenge then put the brakes on the initiative and the courts are now set to decide whether it can continue. Catherine Tomlinson reports.
Last year, Spotlight reported that taking a widely available antibiotic, doxycycline after condomless sex can reduce the risk of contracting three different sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Elri Voigt unpacks some further results from three studies presented at CROI2023 on Doxycycline as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for STI prevention.
A vaginal ring used to prevent HIV infection is safe to use during late pregnancy and while breastfeeding, according to findings presented at a major international HIV conference in Seattle in the United States. The news comes as South Africa prepares for a likely national rollout of the ring and as more research confirms the safety of an HIV prevention pill during pregnancy. It is estimated that offering these products to pregnant and breastfeeding women could avert up to 136 000 new infections in roughly the next decade. Laura Lopez Gonzalez reports.
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.