Integrating HIV and NCD care is critical but not straight-forward, clinicians say

With the remarkable success of antiretroviral treatment people living with HIV in South Africa are generally living much longer than they did two decades ago. As a result, more people with HIV are also now living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension. Accordingly, the need to better integrate HIV and NCD services was a hot topic at the recent Southern African HIV Clinicians Society conference in Cape Town. Elri Voigt reports.

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New drug offers hope against untreatable gonorrhoea

Newly announced results of a pivotal phase 3 trial have demonstrated the effectiveness of a new treatment for gonorrhoea. The medicine, zoliflodacin, is the first new drug developed to treat gonorrhoea in over 30 years. More than half of the 930 patients in the trial were from South Africa. Catherine Tomlinson reports.

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SA AIDS 2023: New treatments and guidelines to benefit kids, with more advances on the horizon

The 11th SA AIDS conference, recently held in Durban, highlighted the worrying fact that key HIV numbers such as treatment coverage are much lower in children than in adults. But as Elri Voigt reports, conference delegates also heard about new treatments and guidelines that will make life easier for kids and the exciting potential of several new long-acting experimental treatments.

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In-depth: The state of SA’s HPV vaccination programme in 2023

South Africa’s HPV vaccination programme has by all accounts been a resounding success over the last decade, likely helping to prevent many cases of cervical cancer. But the programme has suffered major setbacks due to COVID-19-related disruptions and in addition to getting it back on track, some argue vaccine eligibility should be expanded to include boys as well as older girls and women newly infected with HIV. Amy Green takes stock of the country’s HPV vaccination efforts.

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In-depth: What should behaviour change efforts look like in the PrEP era?

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.

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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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Face to Face: Prof Helen Rees on SAHPRA, women’s rights, and her appetite for justice

As a rebellious teenager growing up in the British town of Harpenden, Professor Helen Rees would sneak out to attend anti-apartheid talks. Today, she is a renowned scientist and chair of South Africa’s medicines regulator. Biénne Huisman chatted to Rees about her career, prioritising women’s reproductive health, and her role at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

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SA expected to begin piloting HIV prevention shot in early 2023

South Africa is expected to begin piloting the every-other-month HIV prevention shot early next year, according to the international medicine financing initiative Unitaid. New modelling shows that the injection could prevent as many as 52 000 new HIV infections in the next two decades. But to be cost-effective in South Africa, the research argues, the price of the injection must fall to levels drugmaker ViiV Healthcare says are unrealistic. Laura Lopez Gonzalez reports.

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Climate change can set back maternal health, says researcher

Researchers around the world are drawing an ever-more distinct line between rising global temperatures and negative effects on maternal, foetal, and infant health. One of these researchers is Professor Matthew Chersich of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Research Institute. Ufrieda Ho chatted to Chersich after he delivered his inaugural lecture at the end of August.

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Women in Health: From test tubes to impacting lives – Dr Thesla Palanee-Phillips on making a difference with science

Dr Thesla Palanee-Phillips is the Director of Clinical Trials at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) at the University of the Witwatersrand. As part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series, Elri Voigt spoke to her about what set her off into a career in science, the significance of the ASPIRE trial that she co-chaired, and juggling motherhood and her career.

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