News / Africa

MSF Pioneers Innovative Treatment for S. African AIDS Patients

Children run past a mural painting of an Aids ribbon at a school in Khutsong Township, 74 km (46 miles) west of Johannesburg, August 22, 2011.
Children run past a mural painting of an Aids ribbon at a school in Khutsong Township, 74 km (46 miles) west of Johannesburg, August 22, 2011.
Anita Powell
South Africa has the world’s highest percentage of HIV-positive people, and runs one of the world’s largest programs to provide free AIDS drugs.  But many of those people say they want to manage their medication without visiting a hospital every few months.  Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders has pioneered a program bringing medications to the patients through special, home-based clubs.  

For Andile Madondile getting his lifesaving AIDS medicines used to mean taking a day off work every few months.  He would take public transportation to a busy government hospital, where he would often have to wait all day for his free medication.

It was expensive, time-consuming and, says the upbeat 33-year-old, it was depressing.

Today, Madondile is part of a pilot program by Doctors Without Borders that aims to help AIDS patients who are relatively healthy and effectively managing the disease.

Madondile, who works for the Cape Town-based Treatment Action Campaign, an AIDS advocacy group, has been taking antiretroviral treatment since his diagnosis in 2004.  He says the treatment is working: his viral load is low and his CD4 cell count is high.  His wife is HIV-negative. 

“We do not need to go, because we are not sick any more now," Madonile explains.  "We do not need now to go to the hospital, to wake up early in the morning - because we are using a public hospital - to wake up early in the morning and come back home late ...  So for us , it is very good, it helps us a lot.”

The concept is simple: every two months, nine people gather at Madondile’s house in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township.  Madondile distributes everyone’s medication.  The group talks about health and related issues, like sex, nutrition, and living with AIDS.  After about half an hour, they go their separate ways.

The club, he says, is not for everyone.  He says he has been deluged with membership requests, but that the club only admits patients who have shown an ability to maintain their health.  They have to have an undetectable viral load and have spent a year on antiretroviral medication.

He also notes that running a club requires some knowledge: the club administrator has to arrange for  pickup or delivery of the medication, prepare it for use and help monitor club members’ health.

Doctors Without Borders, which goes by its French acronym MSF, has established more than 400 clubs in the past year in the Cape Town area, and demand is growing.

MSF Project Coordinator in Khayelitsha Lynne Wilkinson says the clubs are an option for AIDS patients who want to get on with their lives.  The clubs also allow medical professionals to focus on more serious cases in the hospitals.

Wilkinson also says the clubs address the non-physical aspects of the disease.

“Being HIV-positive has a whole range of impacts on an individual, particularly psychosocially, accepting their status, accepting how it is going to feature in their lives, concern of whether they are going to be able to be well long-term, and those are all issues that are much better addressed by a peer support environment rather than just sitting across the table with a clinician,” she notes.

The aid group could not immediately say how many of South Africa’s 5.4 million AIDS patients are healthy enough to participate in such clubs.

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid