South African communities have been significantly affected by HIV/AIDS. Whilst we have made some progress in arresting the epidemic, there are still far too many new infections and far too many people not on treatment and being initiated on treatment too late. The task of reaching the MDG targets and our NSP targets depends on an enhanced whole of society response. The Department of Health is ready to scale up our response as outlined in this article.
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HIV behavioural research and prevention efforts targeted at South African women has focused on increasing gender equality and reducing gender-based violence. We examined whether alcohol use and mental health problems (depression and posttraumatic stress) explained the link between experiencing violence and HIV in South African women. It was shown that alcohol use, but not depression or posttraumatic stress, explained the link between violence and unprotected sex. Women who have ever experienced physical or sexual abuse were more likely to report drinking more alcohol, and drinking more was predictive of more unprotected sex. Thus, it is important to not only address gender-based violence, it is necessary to also address subsequent alcohol use among women in South Africa.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis: patients in KwaZulu-Natal have better cure rates than patients in the Eastern Cape (PETTS Cohort).
South Africa has the third highest tuberculosis (TB) and the fifth highest drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) burden in the world. The increase of DR-TB is largely due to the HIV epidemic and the challenges that are faced with the management of the disease. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape (EC) have the highest burden of DR-TB cases in South Africa. During 2005-2008 the “Preserving the Effective TB Treatment Study” (PETTS) was conducted in order to determine the rate of, risk factors for and consequences of acquired resistance to second-line drugs in MDR-TB patients in the EC and KZN. The study results are presented here.
Using the Pan African Clinical Trials Registry to monitor TB-related research on the African continent
The Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR) was born out of the need to ensure that all new trials in Africa are identified and that trial information is made widely available in an open-access repository. It is a prospective clinical trials registry, which aims to increase clinical trial registration in Africa by developing awareness of the need to register trials and supporting trialists during registration. PACTR is a valuable resource to understand the clinical trial landscape throughout Africa, and provides an opportunity to monitor the conduct of clinical trials. PACTR can be used to understand the changing trial landscape, and thereby research trends, while providing users with insight on regional capacity development. As an example, an analysis is done on the tuberculosis trials that are currently being conducted.
The theme “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria” marks a decisive juncture in the history of malaria control: Whether the malaria map will keep shrinking or be reclaimed by the malaria parasites, depends on the resources that will be invested in control efforts.
Research to establish whether a vaccine can slow down progression of disease in HIV positive people has started at the University of Limpopo.