Mental illnesses and the labels that go with these illnesses are often associated with stigma, which in turn influences health-seeking behaviour and adherence to treatment. Nthusang Lefafa looks at how South Africa’s National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2023 – 2030 addresses stigma and asked some experts for their views.
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.
South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (2023 – 2028) was launched on Friday at Tlhabane Stadium in Rustenburg, North West as the world commemorated World TB Day. Nthusang Lefafa attended the event and spoke to experts and activists about the state of TB and HIV and the work that lies ahead with the new NSP.
Conversations with young people about sex can lead to safer sexual behaviour, like delayed sexual debut, the use of condoms and other contraceptives, and having fewer concurrent sexual partners but we need to give learners and young people clear and reliable information so that they can make informed choices relating to their health, writes Julia Chaskalson.
In December 2022, the Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, set into motion a public participation process on the laws that govern sex work in South Africa. Marlise Richter & Pamela Chakuvinga point out that while the Bill published for public comment in December is very short, it will do something quite extraordinary if it does become law – it will fully decriminalise sex work. This, they argue, is a process we must see through.
Our public health system is creating a new type of disability – ostomates who, with access to the necessary care and medical consumables could live long and fulfilled lives, but who every day are subjected to the indignities of inadequate care, writes colorectal cancer survivor and ostomate, Faizel Jacobs.
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.
As we look at the year ahead, urgent work remains to build on past successes and to bring the HIV epidemic sustainably under control. Amongst others, we need to address persistent stigma and discrimination, as well as the structural and social factors that put women and girls at increased risk of HIV infection, argues Rachel Toku-Appiah.
HIV prevention pills are becoming more widely available in South Africa and the country is set to soon start piloting the use of an HIV prevention injection. But merely having these tools available in clinics and other places does not mean people will use them. Thabo Molelekwa asked several experts what behaviour change communications should look like in this new era of HIV prevention.
On December 12, Ntimbwe Munongo Mpamba will celebrate his fortieth birthday with chocolate cake in Northgate, Johannesburg. He was born with HIV but only became aware of his HIV status many years later. Biénne Huisman spoke to him about living with HIV, his early years when his mother fed him medicine disguised as sweets, and now, living openly as an HIV awareness champion.
According to some estimates, over a third of tuberculosis (TB) patients have high levels of psychological distress and a quarter have an alcohol use disorder. Following an eye-opening project in KwaZulu-Natal, Atlantic Institute Tekano Fellow Amanda Fononda argues that a diagnosis of an illness (such as TB) should be accompanied by mental health screening for treatment readiness, adherence, and overall well-being.
Tuberculosis (TB) disease and all the disruption and stress that goes along with it can take a toll on someone’s mental health, and mental health problems can in turn make someone more vulnerable to TB. In the wake of World Mental Health Day 2022, Tiyese Jeranji explores the complex links between mental health and TB.