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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More