Courts to decide whether pharmacists can start HIV medicines without a doctor’s script

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.

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What new STI prevention findings mean for SA

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.

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Vaginal ring to prevent HIV safe to use in late pregnancy and while breastfeeding

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.

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In-depth: Some improvement but much more needed to address health needs of key populations

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.

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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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Women in Health: Mary Selona is changing ‘the way things are’ – one woman at a time

Mary Selona, a community activist who heads up the Blood River Advice Centre in Limpopo, is putting women at the centre in her quest for social justice. Whether it is intervening when women are refused PrEP at clinics or in more immediate life-threatening situations relating to gender-based violence, Selona is leading from the front. Ufrieda Ho spoke to her as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.

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Spotlight on HIV: Six graphs that tell the story

In 2021, HIV was successfully suppressed in the bodies of around 63% of the close to eight million people living with HIV in South Africa. This is according to recent outputs from Thembisa, the leading mathematical model of HIV in South Africa. With the help of some graphs, Spotlight editor Marcus Low unpacks this and other key model outputs.

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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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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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