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.
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.
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.
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.
In Spotlight’s analysis of South Africa’s HIV response in recent years, two issues have stood out consistently – still too many people living with HIV are not taking antiretroviral therapy and the rate of new HIV infections in South Africa is not coming down fast enough. Accordingly, argues Spotlight editor Marcus Low, we must accelerate the shift toward an HIV response where we make testing for HIV and taking antiretroviral treatment as convenient as possible.
South Africa’s tuberculosis (TB) testing numbers have recovered from dramatic declines in 2020, delegates heard at the opening of the 7th South African TB Conference in Durban. The Department of Health also provided some details of its TB recovery plans and targets. Tiyese Jeranji reports from Durban.
The AIDS2022 conference held recently in Montreal, Canada highlighted yet again the need for community activism and the importance of involving young people, writes Dr Yogan Pillay. He argues that the youth and communities must be engaged in the conceptualisation and writing of South Africa’s new AIDS plan, and young people and community-based organisations must have a central role in key aspects of its implementation.
Over the last three decades, Dr Fareed Abdullah has been at the coalface of South Africa’s response to HIV, tuberculosis, and more recently, COVID-19. Biénne Huisman chatted with Abdullah about providing antiretrovirals in the time of AIDS denialism, National Health Insurance, working as a medical doctor, and the toll HIV has sadly taken on his own family.
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.
Investing in tuberculosis means that everyone has a stake in eliminating TB as a public health threat in our country: every person, every family, every community, every organisation (public and private) as well as government, writes Dr Yogan Pillay and Gaurang Tanna.
An HIV prevention injection taken every two months was recently approved in the United States. Several HIV activists interviewed by Thabo Molelekwa say that access to the injection should be prioritised in South Africa and that we need to do a better job in rolling out the injection than we did with the rollout of prevention pills.