HIV Initiatives across South Africa

HIV/AIDS Dictionary

HIV- Human Immune deficiency Virus
AIDS- Acquired Immune deficiency Syndrome
Antibodies- Cells produced by the body to fight infection.
CD4- Fighter cells/ immune cells
Antiretrovirals- Medication to slow the progress of the HI virus
STI- Sexually Transmitted Infection
Kaposi Sarcoma- Aids related cancer
Lesions- Injury to the living tissue of the body, usually as a result of disease or injury
ADC- Aids dementia complex
Adherence- Taking medication exactly as prescribed
Viral evolution- The change in the make-up of the virus. Influences ART
ART- Antiretroviral therapy
ARV- Antiretrovirals
VCT- Voluntary counseling and testing

Telephone numbers
to remember:

National AIDS Helpline: 0800 012 322
HIV Health Workers Hotline: 0800 212 506
AIDS Consortium: 011-403 0265
AIDS Law Project ALP: 011- 717 8600
National Association of people living with AIDS(NAPWA): 011-872 0975

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC):
Cape Town: 021-364-5489
Johannesburg: 011-403-2293
KZN: 031-304-3673
Eastern Cape: 043-760-0050

All around the country in fact, all over the world people are taking the initiative to encourage HIV testing and proper care. In South Africa TAC has been tirelessly campaigning for care to be available to all HIV positive patients and for the government to grant access to ARV treatment.

Cell phone reminders in Limpopo

The staff at Matavhela clinic in Limpopo have come up with a way to put the ever-present cell phone to good use. HIV positive patients are being reminded to take their meds via SMS. The clinic has a cell phone on the premises, and money for air time was raised by staff and the community

Treatment Action Campaign

Anti Retro Viral treatment to stay healthy when HIV positiveIn South Africa, TAC has been tirelessly campaigning for care to be available to all HIV positive patients and for the government to grant access to ARV treatment. A name synonymous with the fight against HIV and the fight for treatment and the face of the Treatment Action Campaign is Zackie Achmat. For many years Zackie has been at the forefront of the fight, imploring the South African government to make ARV treatment available to all. Access to medication was cost prohibitive, with the majority of HIV patients not having access to funds or private health care.

After numerous marches and sit-ins designed to bring the plight of un-medicated HIV patients to the fore now behind them and ARV treatment available to any HIV positive person with a CD4 count of 350 or less, the Treatment Action Campaign have turned their attention to the prevention of HIV and the improving health of those who had previously tested positive.

Equal Treatment, a magazine aimed at health and matters affecting the HIV situation has made information more accessible by having both an-line printer friendly version as well as hard copy available. Issued 5 times a year the magazine keeps the reader up to date on any developments on all fields that affect HIV and it's management from medication to prevention and lifestyle issues.


ARV treatment

One ARV pill a day

Headway has finally been made, allowing a single dose tablet to be available from April 2013. There is however only one set of ARV available in the public health sector, which means that if you are on a regimen of meds that differs from the content of the single tablet ARV, you will unfortunately still have to take your usual number of tablets a day until further developments change how you are medicated.

A fight that can be won

The availability of HIV treatment has increased and ARV's are being distributed more often and to a greater percentage of recipients.

This, experts say is one of the leading reasons why both new HIV infections and Aids related deaths have decreased rather dramatically in South Africa and in east Africa.

UNAIDS has reported at a conference in Johannesburg during July, that in seven countries the rate of new HIV infections has declined by 50% in another seven countries by between 30 and 49 percent and by less than thirty in another six countries. Africa saw a total drop in new HIV infections by 30%.

Canadian doctors hope that with increased attention on mother to child infection 2015 will be year of zero infections in a generation.

Access to antiretroviral medication is being given the credit for these figures and it is hoped that it will act as motivation towards ensuring access to ARV treatment worldwide.


Books about HIV

A Different Kind of AIDS: Folk and Lay Theories in South African Townships. Jacana/Fanele. 2014. Written by David Dickinson (PhD), Professor in the Department of Sociology at Wits University, South Africa.


Department of Health

What is the strategy?

Diseases such as HIV and TB are particularly prevalent amongst the poor and vulnerable. The South African government has taken this as their cue to increase their efforts in combating these diseases.

In the case of HIV/Aids it is felt that combatting this disease will benefit from renewed vigour in the HCT (HIV/Aids counseling and testing campaign)

The main focuses of this campaign will be:
Voluntary male circumcision\behaviour modification
and early prevention of mother to child transmission amongst others.

Early detection and knowing your status will become a priority as government will show people the benefits of prevention and early access to treatment. This will mean an increase in the number of people who have access to ARV's.

The HIV/Aids and TB programmes will integrate into primary healthcare focussed on communities and households.

Keep up with the latest developments in the search for a cure by clicking here.


Adherence clubsAdherence clubs help people stick to their medication

Stable adherent patients, are able and willing to take their ARV treatment but are not always able to attend clinics on a regular basis. The attendees are hoping to have access to more than one months supply of treatment, enabling them to continue with the daily requirements of their lives.

One woman said that she was well enough to go to work every day, she was taking her ARV medication as prescribed but had to take a full day's leave every month to collect her new batch of medication. She felt her boss might think she didn't want to work. By attending the club only every second month her attendance at work has improved and her health is still good.

Lending both emotional support and sharing advice and knowledge these adherence clubs are taking off amongst HIV positive patients(mostly women) and at the same time easing the burden on resources.

Many of these HIV positive women will testify that they became HIV positive in circumstances which were not in their control, others will testify that dealing with being HIV positive and meeting the needs of a demanding modern life can take a hefty toll. Because discrimination is still rife, many HIV positive patients feel they have no where to turn, the adherence groups act as a support group.

Adherence clubs are often visited by dynamic speakers which enable and empower the members. One of the more interesting and relevant topics for discussion have been the rights of patients, both as women and as HIV positive patients. This meeting informed many women of rights they previously never new they had, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding the well being of both their children and themselves.

Initially piloted in South Africa in Khayelitsha and in Mozambique there are now clubs at a number of hospitals and even a few hosted by individuals at their homes or community centre.

However you decide to tackle the situation, education and knowing your status through HIV testing are two key points that should never be overlooked.

Be responsible for your behaviour

HIV is not a death sentence, but it certainly changed the lives of two people rather dramtically. Recent news reports tell of an HIV/Aids counsellor who infected a patient coming to the clinic for an HIV test, by having unprotected sex with her even knowing that he is HIV positive.

The man met the woman at the clinic when she came for her HIV test and counselling. She tested negative. The couple had consensual unprotected sex twice after that followed by the women testing positive for an HIV infection.

The court ruled that even though there was no proof that the HIV infection was from the man, by knowing his status and still having unprotected sex with the women he is guilty of attempted murder. The man has been sentenced to 6 years in prison.


Ambassadors for HIV/Aids Prevention

Many people, including celebrities have taken on the role of HIV ambassador. They are usually a well known face in the community, someone that people will recognise and pay attention to. An HIV/Aids Ambassador will share the necessity of HIV prevention and the benefits of of knowing your status.

Lesego Motsepe, better known as Letti Matabane in Isidingo, made her HIV status known on World Aids Day on 2011 and went on to inspire and encourage those affected with HIV, showing them that life goes on and that a full life is there for the living in spite of your HIV status.

Lesego Motsepe passed away in January 2014 but the importance of her work as an Aids Ambassador will remain forever.

Let's look at a few other well known people who have put their celebrity to use in the fight against Hiv/Aids


References and links