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Sharing Global Perspectives on Sex Work and Harm Reduction

On Wednesday, 13 March, a group of people from around the world gathered at the Cape Town Sex Worker Drop-in Centre. Delegates from Mexico, India, Morocco, Nepal, Macedonia, South Africa and Kosovo were invited to learn about TB HIV Care’s Sex Worker and People Who Use Drugs Programmes in Cape Town by hearing from staff and service beneficiaries alike.

As members of the Global Fund’s Developing Country NGO Delegation, many of the international delegates had very comparable experiences implementing similar programmes in other countries. This was evident from the many nodding heads in the audience when our staff explained our processes and challenges. This delegation is responsible for representing the interests and viewpoints of NGOs from developing countries on the board of the Global Fund, and has one seat on the board. The delegation is currently holding a retreat in Cape Town to plan its year ahead and the purpose of the visit to the Drop-in Centre was to get insight into South African experiences.

Lesley Odendaal, Communications Focal Point for the delegation, commented that the site visit had far exceeded her expectations. 

Rudolph Basson, Cape Metro Key Populations Project Coordinator, and Yolaan Andrews, Cape Metro Sex Work Site Manager, both gave excellent presentations describing the work of their teams. This was followed by emotional presentations by Natleen Jordaan, representing peers in the Sex Worker Programme and Angelo Langenhoven, representing peers in the PWUD Programme. Three service beneficiaries also shared their experiences with TB HIV Care, explaining how much they had learnt and how appreciative they were of the welcoming nature of TB HIV Care’s staff.

Thank you to all involved!

Communicating Social Behaviour Change using TV and Radio

TB HIV Care was invited to partner with the National Department of Health (NDOH) on a Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) grant.  Asanda Ngoasheng (Project Manager) and Chanelle Munick (Project Administrator) joined the team to manage the three-month campaign. 

The campaign is aimed at three target markets, namely adolescent girls and young women (15-24), men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers. This project is about empowering women, men who have sex with men and sex workers to make the right choices as each action has consequences. The campaign will focus on TV and radio public service announcements (PSAs), community dialogues and health calendar day-focused events organised around the key campaign messages of:

  • Encouraging clinic visits for all target populations, especially to youth zones and youth clubs.
  • Promoting the prevention of STIs, teen pregnancy and HIV through combination prevention, i.e. condom and contraception use.
  • Calling for an end to gender-based violence – creating messages about the positive consequences of using your power or strength for good instead of physically abusing women.
  • Encouraging the initiation of and adherence to treatment for TB and HIV.
  • Testing – know your status, know your power and whether positive or negative, play your part! 

An important component of the SBCC project is community dialogue,  and TB HIV Care joined Sisonke/SWEAT’s ‘Creative Spaces’ initiative to host a conversation with sex workers. 

Asanda Ngoasheng led the conversation and shared SBCC Project messages with the twenty-nine sex workers present. They, in turn,  shared their stories of facing discrimination and stigma in clinics, both as sex workers and as people living with HIV. They also shared tried and tested condom negotiation tactics that they use on clients.

Although the topic was serious, there was a jovial mood and happiness at being able to tell their stories and hopefully inspire others to live healthy lives while working in a high-risk industry. 

This week the project reached a major milestone when the TV and radio campaign kicked off on the SABC. 

The messages portrayed on TV (and then translated into radio skits) focus on the following themes:

  1. We call for an end to gender-based violence and want men to use their power or strength for good. We call on communities (the power of collective action) to stand up and take action against gender-based violence.
  2. We call on young girls and young women to overcome their fear of clinics and visit clinics (especially Youth Zones and Youth Clubs) in order to receive combination prevention services (including condoms, contraceptives and/or PrEP) to prevent STIs, teen pregnancy and HIV infection.
  3. We call on young people to test and know their status.
  4. We call on young people to adhere to their medication if they receive a positive status – and to keep using condoms if they receive a positive (or negative) status.
  5. We call on young people to use condoms and see people who carry condoms as sexy and desirable, because they care about protecting the future health of their partners.
  6. We call on young people to choose a condom in all their sexual interactions in order to reduce the risk of infection with STIs and HIV or the risk of unwanted pregnancies.

The response to the messages so far has been phenomenal, with many people using our dedicated WhatsApp line to ask further questions and seek help for their health concerns.

If you are interested in finding out more about the campaign please click on the following links below:

http://sheconquerssa.co.za/
https://bwisehealth.com/

BMSF project: The Eastern Cape Community Collaborative Cancer Initiative

On Tuesday, 05 March, TB HIV Care (THC) received a notification of award for an exciting new community project to be implemented in the Eastern Cape from 01 April 2019. 

The Eastern Cape Community Collaborative Cancer Initiative, as the project is known, is the second THC project to be funded by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF) and marks a notable diversification of the scope of services offered by THC. The overarching goal of the project is to support improved patient outcomes for lung cancer and other common cancers affecting people living in the catchment area of the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, by raising community awareness of lung cancer, promoting and linking people to screening, supporting navigation through the health system as well as supporting palliative and survivorship activities.

This community-based project will link with and support the activities of the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital Oncology Centre of Excellence, which is being supported through a separate funding agreement with BMSF. 

You may be wondering why THC, an organisation that has historically focused on two of the most prevalent infectious diseases impacting South Africans (TB and HIV) would be branching out into lung cancer, so here are some interesting facts:

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in South Africa, accounting for around 16% of all cancer deaths, followed by cervix, breast and prostate cancer.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer affecting South African men and the fourth most common in women.
  • People living with HIV who have access to effective antiretrovirals are living longer lives and co-morbid non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers are becoming an increasing health burden to this group and others. Yet many South Africans have limited awareness of cancer.
  • There is evidence that TB, either active TB or successfully treated TB with resultant lung scarring, is a risk factor for the development of lung cancer.
  • Lung cancer can present with similar clinical symptoms and X-ray changes to TB (incl. unexplained weight loss, a persistent cough, blood-stained sputum) and diagnosis may be delayed if health workers are not aware of the possibility of an alternate diagnosis to TB.

In light of this, we believe that it is important that links between TB and cancer service providers are strengthened and community awareness raised. TB HIV Care is therefore partnering with four community-based organisations (CBOs) in OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts to raise community awareness and support endeavours to equip community-based and primary health care providers with the necessary knowledge and skills to assess risks for lung cancer and refer patients for early screening.