14 Dec The Latest in HIV/AIDS news in South Africa
When the topic of HIV/AIDS is brought up, people tend to think the worst. Of course, it is a very serious, and deadly disease – but that shouldn’t prevent us from celebrating our positive approach in preventing the disease and caring for its many victims.
Allow JPS Africa to share with you the latest news in the HIV/AIDS and health sector, so we can educate ourselves and stand together in the fight against AIDS.
The current state of the country
Unfortunately, not all news is good news, but maintaining a positive, proactive approach is important in dealing with this deadly disease. HIV/AIDS remain as the leading cause of death in South Africa as reported by researcher, Debbie Bradshaw, MSc, DPhil and the South African Medical Research Council team.
According to UNAIDS there are more than 2000 new infections per week amongst girls in South Africa aged 15-24. Luckily organisations such as PEPFAR and the Gates Foundation as well as the Nike Foundation are actively trying to change the statistics by sponsoring a targeted $210 million international initiative DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women) in the hopes of reducing HIV infection in African countries.
Read more about the current HIV and AIDs statistics, here.
Decreased Mortality Rate and Antiretroviral Therapy
Vaccine News recently reported that the AIDS mortality rate in South Africa has been decreasing since the staggering numbers back in 2007. This is mostly thanks to organisations, such as JPS Africa supporting and complementing these programmes. The problem still seems to lie with the fact that there’s a reluctance to classify HIV and AIDS as a chronic health condition and, therefore, it cannot be adequately monitored.
The report from the SA Medical Research Council read: “The sooner HIV and AIDS are normalised as chronic health conditions, the sooner South Africa will be able to eliminate the epidemic. Reliably counting death from AIDS, an essential mechanism to monitor progress, has to become routine”.
This is a big reason why it is so important for JPS Africa to empower and educate infected and affected individuals as well as their families and friends in order to keep enabling lives through proactive decision-making, and taking action when needed.
Treating children with HIV infections
Great news in the field of treatment of HIV-infected children. Scientists at Columbia University discovered that using pediatric antiretroviral treatments, such as those based on efavirenz, to treat children can shift patients from a rapidly fatal disease state to a chronic condition without causing viral failure. Read more about this study by following this link.
Progress in Eradicating HIV Reservoirs
PLOS Pathogens published a study by researchers that show significant progress in possibly eliminating HIV reservoirs from patients. These molecules are developed to target both HIV infected and killer T cells. These engineered molecules are called Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) and they are aimed at launching a broad attack on HIV reservoirs.
“This new “kick and kill” method uses pharmacologic activation for latent HIV infections to create infected cells that the immune system will recognise to provoke the immune system’s response: killing HIV.”
How We Are Helping, And How YOU Can Help
One of the biggest concerns in dealing with this epidemic was burden of expected care and support from impoverish, rural communities. What seems to be making the biggest difference as is community-based care. Instead of seeking medical attention at a late stage of disease progression challenges prevention strategies. Individuals within the community need to be educated and trained to deal with this current climate. As aids.org.za explains:
The central focus remains that we continue to mobilise an increased uptake in HIV testing and counseling, behavior change communication and combination prevention and treatment.
As a NGO, that is exactly what we are trying to do. Offer programmes, assistance, research and training to those in impoverished communities so that the community can be inspired, educated and empowered to deal with the issues concerning HIV and AIDS.
As an organisation, we want individuals to understand that they can make a difference, even if they aren’t directly affected by the disease. It’s about sacrificing your time and utilising your resources in the hope of enriching the lives of others.
- Create awareness: Even though there are many publications listing the latest HIV and AIDS statistics and news, this isn’t necessarily ‘seen’ by an audience outside of the health sector. Help create awareness by sharing the latest news and happenings within the industry.
- Follow NGO’s: Another way that you can help is by following non-profit organisations on social media platforms. These pages will keep you up to date with what is happening and where you can help.
- Educate Yourself: A great help is in being informed yourself. If you don’t understand what the disease is and why it is so dangerous, you won’t be able to fathom the seriousness and concern. When you are educated you will be able to inform the community around you.
- Get Tested: It’s easy to assume that you aren’t at risk – but early detection can really change the course of treatment and is highly advised. Getting tested is about being responsible and not putting others at risk.
- Become a Volunteer: There are numerous ways in which you can get involved with NGOs and charity organisations. You don’t necessarily have to be a doctor, nurse or social worker. You can help by volunteering at events or even offering your skills such as social media management, accounting, sales experience etc.
- Donate Money: At the end of the day we are dealing with impoverished communities and the difference between being treated or not comes down to funds available to both the community and the organisation. You can make a difference and help enable lives through supporting us and others organisations like us.