Health in 2021: Another tumultuous year in under a thousand words

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.

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HIV Self-Testing: Will uptake in SA finally take off?

Around one in ten of the over seven million people living with HIV in South Africa are not aware that they have the virus in their bodies. One way to ensure more people are diagnosed more quickly is to make HIV self-tests more widely available. Tiyese Jeranji looks at what HIV Self Testing is, how it is done, and what government policy is on this type of HIV testing.

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In-depth: What we know about SA’s rampant gonorrhoea epidemic

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.

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HIV in Umkhanyakude: Impressive numbers, but living with HIV difficult amid socio-economic hardship

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikhalala praised the Umkhanyakude District recently on its ‘exceptional’ figures in meeting the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. Yet, when Spotlight recently visited the Jozini area, we were confronted with a less rosy picture. Some people stopped their HIV treatment because they do not have food to eat, and activists now warn that the progress with the targets can be derailed if poverty, hunger and other social determinants of health are not urgently and comprehensively addressed. Nomfundo Xolo reports.

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‘Welcome Back Service’ aims to help people get back on HIV treatment

While South Africa is doing well on some of the UNAIDS HIV targets for 2020, one target we are set to miss is ensuring that 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy. Partly in response to this problem, the ‘Welcome back’ campaign started by Doctors without Borders aims to make it easier for people who have stopped taking treatment to restart. Tiyese Jeranji reports.

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