Participants’ expectations for the South African AIDS Conference

Anele Yawa, TAC
SHARE team

The SHARE team chatted with a range of delegates to find out their expectations for this week’s conference, including academics, clinicians, and representatives from civil society organizations.

“I want to hear about new technologies for prevention and treatment. There are a lot of people falling out of care, especially women who are living with HIV, many of who actually only embark on ART during pregnancy, because of the focus on saving babies [from becoming infected with HIV], but then fall out of care. So I’m interested to see what new technologies there are that will not bind or force women to constantly go to facilities because we know that some of the things that make people fall out of care is the fact that they have to take time off from work to be able to go, so it’s a vicious cycle, not only for ARVs, but also for contraception. I’m looking for other presentations on integration as well, because I think that’s a priority." -- Nzwakie Mosery, MatCH Research Unit


Prof Venter
Prof Francois Venter (Wits RHI)
and Heather Ingold (WHO)

"For me, one of the most important things is to understand the epidemiology of HIV in South Africa. I was really struck by the increase of incidence among young men – it’s not dramatic, but it’s big enough to be worrying. I think there’s a lot to be done. The other thing for this conference is the ECHO results around contraception – I’m going to be watching to see what we are doing among young women. The ECHO findings will help guide our programming for young women – if the incidence levels are high, then we know that we should go to the contraception clinics to find them as quickly and efficiently as possible. They are there and sitting there every month – why aren’t we there? Why don’t we offer PrEP and testing to them?" -- Professor Francois Venter, Deputy Executive Director, Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute


"I have been working in HIV for several years and am involved in teaching the next generation of clinicians through working at the university. We need to stay up-to-date with the rest of the world on the latest treatment, such as Dolutegravir, which countries such as Botswana are integrating into their standard treatment regimens. We need to have conversations and access the latest data to have informed opinions." -- Dr Dirk Hagemeister, University of the Free State


"People are interested in knowing their status at home in their own spare time. HIV self-testing is new for some of them and it’s exciting. We’re handing out self-testing kits at our booth, and we’re expecting a lot more participants to come and get theirs tomorrow." -- HIV Self Testing Africa (STAR)


"I believe this conference is a platform for medical practitioners, scientists, and civil society to share the best practices on how we can use technology and innovation to respond to the HIV epidemic, as well as to encourage people to know their status and put them on treatment if they have tested positive, and ensure they adhere to treatment because you can only get better if you adhere to the doctors instructions." -- Foster Mohale, National Department of Health


King of Condom
"King of Condom" and
Danya Pedra (SHARE)

"I am the African King of Condom. I am from Kenya and am here to learn from South Africa, since it is the country with the most HIV infections in Africa. I want to know what you are doing differently and emphasize that condoms are the cheapest and easiest way to prevent new infections. I want to learn what condoms are being used, how they are distributed, if you have champions for condoms. I want to see what power we can give to Africans to use condoms and protect themselves. This is my first time to be in South Africa, and I am happy to be here." -- Stanley Ngara, the African King of Condom, LVCT Health


"I’m doing an oral presentation. I’m presenting on an innovation we’ve developed and implemented called eLabs, which is an application that tracks the specimens from the clinics to the central lab and delivers electronic results back to the facilities." --Kumbirai Chigudu, WITS Health Consortium

"What we are trying to learn is where we are so far in ending the HIV epidemic, because we know South Africa is one of the most affected countries, but has also managed to reduce new infections by almost 30% over the past 10 years. So I am looking to see what innovations and new approaches there are in terms of fighting the HIV epidemic, especially in reducing the number of new infections through, for example, social-behavior change, self-testing, PrEP, and SMC, and how these are implemented in different countries. I’m also interested in the results of She Conquers and DREAMS." -- Dr. Lamboly Kumboneki, SADC 

TAC's Anele Yawa, General Secretary,
and Bellinda Setshogelo, Provincial
Manager for Mpumalanga

"We are here to make sure there is access to quality ARVs for everybody living with HIV, we are fighting stockouts, we are fixing the broken health care system so that people are not chased out of the clinics. We are here to make sure that the HIV and AIDS agenda is on the agenda of the county and the whole world. We trust the Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, in terms of the promises he made during the opening ceremony, but it is easier said than done, so we’ll walk with the Minister until everything he’s committed to has been put into practice and delivered to the people." -- Anele Yawa, General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)

We look forward to ongoing discussion and engagement as all stakeholders work collaboratively together to strengthen and accelerate the response to HIV in South Africa and the region.