2023 was a busy year for healthcare in South Africa. We saw several promising policy developments, landmark court cases, important pieces of legislation, and some changes in leadership. Yet, take a step back and at facility level little seems to have changed. Shortages of healthcare workers persist, corruption is still rife, budgets tight, and our health governance crisis remains as acute as ever. Marcus Low looks back at the year in health in fewer than 1 000 words.
An estimated 54 000 people died of tuberculosis in South Africa in 2022 and around 280 000 fell ill with the disease, according to just-released figures from the World Health Organization. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the figures and what they mean for the country’s TB response.
Last year Spotlight reported that pilot projects testing out a new HIV prevention injection and a vaginal ring in South Africa would start early in 2023. Yet, as delegates gathered for the SA AIDS Conference in Durban last week, those pilots hadn’t yet started. Alicestine October and Elri Voigt have the latest on the state of play with these critical projects.
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.
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.
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.
If South Africa wants to strengthen the prevention arm of its HIV programme, which it definitely should, providing comprehensive sex education in schools and training teachers to deliver this curriculum will be vital. It is important that the HIV/AIDS Life Skills Grant, as one of the key pieces of a broader HIV prevention strategy, be supported and strengthened, argue Mbali Baduza and Julia Chaskalson.
A UNAIDS report published earlier this year estimates that just under 4.5 million men and boys accessed voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) services in South Africa by the end of 2019 with 47% of these having been performed from 2016 to 2019. Thabo Molelekwa reports on the impact COVID-19 has had on VMMCs and the challenges related to resuming this service in the country.
The risk of developing severe or fatal COVID-19 is 30% greater in people living with HIV compared to those who are HIV negative, according to a new report from the World Health Organization. Comprised of data from 37 countries, including South Africa, the report suggests people living with HIV should be prioritised for vaccination. Laura Owings reports.
According to the National Department of Health HIV prevention pills are now available at 1 227 public sector facilities (36% of the total). While far from the 100% target, this is a substantial improvement on the roughly 160 facilities that provided the pills six months ago. Amy Green reports.