2017 News

Updated branding and governance for TB HIV Care

On the 1st October TB/HIV Care Association (THCA) transformed into TB HIV Care (THC), and from a non-profit organisation to a non-profit company.

New form promises even stronger governance

As a non-profit company, TB HIV Care will be governed by the Companies’ Act of 2008. This means that the organisation will be subject to more stringent regulations and will be held to higher standards of accountability. We believe that this improved governance will make our organisation even stronger and reflects our growing stature, reputation and responsibilities. Our vision and commitment to operating as a non-profit entity remains the same.

Updated look for new name and structure

To mark the transition, TB HIV Care engaged in a process of updating and refreshing our visual brand. It was an intense and interesting journey. We decided to keep many links to our previous brand, including our colours, the shape of the logo and a reference to the AIDS ribbon. In this way we retained our connection to our rich history and the reputation we have built. However, we simplified the design and put a person at the heart of the logo to show our commitment to person-centred care. We also added a design element that will live alongside the logo – a linking line to represent the way we work together to link people to care, guiding them through the continuum of care.

However, our brand is not a logo. It is the idea of who we are as an organisation, and what we stand for. It belongs to the whole organisation, and we create and recreate it every day. TB HIV Care is looking forward to building our brand as an organisation that connects communities with care.

TB/HIV Care: Safeguarding the young women of South Africa

Photo Credit: Community Media Trust

TB/HIV Care’s vision is clear: to empower all communities (wherever they are and whoever they might be) to be healthy and free of TB and HIV. This includes high-risk or vulnerable populations, for example, sex workers, inmates and people who inject drugs. Noone can be left behind.

One of South Africa’s most vulnerable groups is adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). In fact, UNAIDS tells us that adolescent girls and young women are eight times more likely to be living with HIV than young men of the same age. Eight times . It is clear that if South Africa has any hope of stopping the spread of HIV, we need to safeguard our young women.

TB/HIV Care is rolling out three activities specifically designed to look after the health and well-being of SA’s adolescent girls and young women.

1. DREAMS. An AIDS-free future for young women

The first is DREAMS. An international effort aimed at ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa, DREAMS stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe. Everything we could hope for the young women in our communities.

Together with our funders, PEPFAR, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nike Foundation and Girl Effect and other implementing partners , TB/HIV Care is rolling out DREAMs initiatives in South Africa as we work towards an AIDS-free future for our girls and women.

These strategies include:
• Targeting our HIV prevention programmes and health care interventions at AGYW, their families, their sexual partners (e.g. education around Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision) and their larger communities
• Developing guidelines and projects around Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
• Interventions to protect girls from coerced or forced sex and to change community norms, behaviour and beliefs.

2. Stepping Stones. 11 Steps to confident, healthy adolescents

The second is Stepping Stones. Stepping Stones (the very embodiment of the values of DREAMS) is run in 75 schools across the country. It has been implemented in the City of Cape Town (including Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain) and uMgungundlovu, and, in partnership with Community Media Trust, the City of Tshwane, and the City of Johannesburg metropoles.

The programme is made up of a series of 11 workshops. It is designed to promote sexual health, boost self-esteem and foster healthy relationships between young women and men.

There are many programmes aimed at safer sex and protection against HIV, but what makes Stepping Stones unique is its focus on gender equity, communication and empowerment.

It tackles a range of topics, including:
• What is love?
• The difference between happy and unhappy sexual relationships
• The joys and problems of sex
• Gender violence
• Caring for people with HIV or affected by HIV
• Assertiveness
• Communication (partners and community).

3. Families Matter. Developing trust and open communication

Families Matter is an evidence-based intervention which trains parents and guardians of pre-adolescent children (aged 9-12). This age group has been identified as a critical group to address with regards to education on sexual health and behaviour.

The aim of the programme is to enhance protective parenting practices to help reduce sexual risk amongst adolescents. It helps parents develop a positive and open approach to communication, one which fosters trust between parent and child.

Parents who participate in the Families Matter workshops are required to attend five weekly sessions, followed by a follow up session which takes place 6-18 months after training to reinforce key messages and discuss experiences.

The need for ongoing support

TB/HIV Care recognises that keeping young girls and women HIV and AIDS-free is absolutely critical – and an urgent and sustained response is required. We’ll continue to support and empower women to make the very best decisions for themselves, their bodies, their health, their relationships and their future.

 

Interim study results show ‘concerning’ levels of hepatitis C among groups most at risk

Friday the 28th July will mark World Hepatitis Day. Hepatitis B is endemic in South Africa, but up until now, little has been known about the local prevalence of hepatitis C, especially in high-risk populations such as men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who use drugs. Today an ongoing study has released preliminary results. These raise concerns over hepatitis C prevalence among certain groups.

High prevalence makes affordable treatment an urgent priority

“I don’t think anyone was expecting to see the kind of prevalence we’ve seen so far with 54% of people who use drugs testing positive for hepatitis C, and in some areas, up to 77% testing positive. This underscores the urgency for us to explore affordable treatment options as soon as possible,’ says Dr Andrew Scheibe, one of the researchers working with TB/HIV Care Association (TB/HIV Care) on this project.

Although hepatitis C is curable, the cost of current treatment puts it out of reach for many. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B, but it is not readily available for adults through the public health system.

Viral hepatitis is a public health threat worldwide, but a particular danger in South Africa because of the high prevalence of HIV.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are infectious diseases that affect the liver. Those who are infected can silently develop progressive liver damage and can unknowingly be infectious.

A life-threatening disease, viral hepatitis is a particular concern in regions with a high HIV prevalence regions, such as South Africa, because co-infection can result in more rapid progression of both diseases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally 150 million people are infected with hepatitis C and that the disease causes half a million deaths a year. Last year the WHO released the first Global Strategy for Viral Hepatitis. This aims to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. South Africa has adopted the same vision.

The early findings of the South African study conducted in seven cities (in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Mthatha, Pietermaritzburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban), put the overall prevalence of hepatitis C among the populations under study (sex workers, men who have sex with men and people who use drugs) at 13%, with the prevalence of hepatitis B at 4%. The study is being implemented by TB/HIV Care, the University of Cape Town, Anova Health Institute, OUT LGBT Wellbeing and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases with funding from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

Difficulties in accessing treatment go beyond access to medication

The study has also unearthed disturbing trends relating to treatment. It seems that the difficulties in providing hepatitis C treatment and hepatitis B vaccination may go beyond access to medication alone. Clients who were diagnosed with hepatitis by the study were all referred on for specialist care, but many did not appear for subsequent appointments. The reasons for this are still under study, but early reports suggest that other experiences of discrimination and stigma in the health care system, confusing systems in facilities, the possibilities of a long wait for service and the costs associated with travelling to a different site may all play a role in discouraging clients from continuing care.

Prof. Harry Hausler, the CEO of TB/HIV Care, explains, “Research such as this is critical to understanding the viral hepatitis burden among vulnerable people. Next we will have to work with partners to develop cost-effective ways to provide prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment services to those who need them, where they need them, and in appropriate ways.”