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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid