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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid