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HIV infection is not a concern in the workplace, for most people. However, for sex workers, the risk of HIV infection is an everyday reality. The South African national plan for STI and HIV prevention has many positive goals, such as the 90-90-90 treatment target. This ambitious goal is to ensure that 90% of HIV-positive people know their status, receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and suppress the virus by 2020. But, if we are to achieve this target, then no one can be left behind. ...
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5 Strategies to Cure HIV



Whilst a person living with HIV can suppress the virus with antiretrovirals, there is no cure. A cure for HIV would be the total eradication of the virus from the body. However, this is not the only option that scientists are looking into. Here are some of the strategies scientists are looking into for an HIV cure.  

Shock and kill technique

HIV hides in reservoir cells in the body and can remain silent ...
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HIV Remission: What is it?



Whilst there isn’t yet a cure for HIV, the virus can go into ‘remission’. This is where the virus is suppressed for a short time by the immune system without the need for antiretrovirals (ARVs). This period of time could be months or years. The majority of people do not undergo remission and for those who do, it is usually from exceptional circumstances. If an HIV-positive patient reliably takes their ARTs then the virus remains suppressed in hidden reservoirs that are difficult for drugs to reach. (the brain, nerve endings ...
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The goal for all infectious diseases is to find a drug that can quickly eradicate the infecting pathogen, such as anti-biotics, or a vaccine that can prevent the infections from ever taking root in the body. For HIV, we do not yet have either of these options available as current drugs used for treatment are effective at keeping the virus down but not out. To understand why there isn’t yet a cure, it’s important to know how HIV infects the body. HIV infection can only take hold if the virus ...
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Anti Retrovirals (ARVs) suppresses HIV, so if we have a way to manage HIV, why do we need a cure? Less than half of people living with HIV are on treatment. This means that over half of HIV positive people are not on any treatment. With over 2.1 million new HIV infections globally in the year 2015, this growth must be addressed. (1) At the moment, the most effective way to treat HIV is by suppressing the virus using antiretroviral therapy (ART). This is a daily pill, taken for the rest of the ...
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Make Way for the Tutu Tester!



With its signature rainbow banner, the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation’s mobile fleet (Tutu Tester, Tutu Teen Truck, and Tutu Kwik Testers) bring essential healthcare services straight to communities in Cape Town where levels of HIV are high, but levels of treatment are low. In fact, around a fifth of South Africans between 15-49 have HIV. Communities most vulnerable to HIV and TB are remote and densely populated. Medical clinics are often ...
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What is PrEP

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It is a daily drug that can be taken by people who don’t have HIV to prevent them from being infected with the virus. It can prevent HIV infection even if the virus enters the body through an exchange of sexual fluids or from an injection. There are many studies that confirm that PrEP ...
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This week is not only National Nurses Week but also Mental Health Awareness Week, ending on Friday 12th which falls on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. It’s the perfect time to thank the nurses and caregivers in your life and to pay special attention to how to care for your caregivers. Many nurses go through their healthcare career as unsung heroes. Strain and burden are symptoms that many caregivers have to cope ...
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We live in an age of incredible luxury. Many people today have never encountered diseases that were once rampant and harmful - all thanks to vaccinations. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to life-saving immunisation due to their remote living conditions or socio-governmental situations. Moreover, some people opt not to vaccinate themselves or their children, even when vaccines are freely available. There are many reasons that people cite for opposition to vaccinations. These can be philosophical, religious or concerns about safety. Anti-vaccination movements have been around since vaccines were ...
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Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne bacterium that infects the lungs and can be fatal if left untreated. Therefore, HIV-infected people who are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis are particularly susceptible to develop TB disease due to their weakened immune system, and in countries with high TB and HIV prevalence co-infection is common. 35% of HIV-related deaths in 2015 were caused by TB.(1) There is ...
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Vaccines protect us from serious illnesses like mumps, polio and rubella. These diseases, which used to be harmful, are today are no longer a threat in situations where child vaccinations are routine. However, an HIV vaccine remains elusive. The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) is conducting HIV vaccine trials in the hope that one day we will have an effective HIV vaccine to prevent HIV infection. Read More
Women in blue | Tyler Golato DTHF
To commemorate World Immunisation Week, we are sharing some of our research in HIV immunity trials. The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) is testing an infusion of HIV antibodies that are administered intravenously for HIV-negative people. The drip has a similar function to a vaccine; it introduces HIV-fighting antibodies to the patient’s immune system. If successful, this drip could prevent many new incidences of HIV in high-risk ...
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Polio vaccine | Unicef Guinea
The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DHTF) has been researching HIV and providing outreach around Cape Town for over a decade. This includes research on the elusive HIV vaccine. This World Immunization Week 2017, we want to share some of the history of immunization, what research is ongoing right now and where vaccines will be in the future. The first examples of vaccinations were documented in the 17th century: Edward Jenner ...
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This World TB Day 2017 theme is: Unite to End TB; Leave no one behind. Many people infected with TB find themselves discriminated against because of their illness. Others are scared to seek treatment because they fear intolerance, whether that be because of their race, gender, religion or their status as migrants and refugees. We can only end TB if these patients can access treatment. Mario Raviglione, Director of the ...
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On 4th March 2017, the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation organised a poetry writing workshop around the theme 'The Power of One.' The workshop took place at the MCED HIV/AIDS RCL Youth Conference where school children from schools in the area attended. The students discussed issues around HIV, sexual health, teen pregnancy and gender-based violence. HIV is commonly misconstrued as a 'death sentence', however, that needn't be the case with proper treatment and care. The poetry workshop aimed to examine the realities that people living with HIV experience using the material from ...
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Be Bold for Change



8 March is International Womens Day and in 2017 the chosen theme is: Be Bold for Change. Women’s Day can be viewed as a day to celebrate all things that women have contributed and achieved. However, historically Women’s Day is also a day put aside to stand up and challenge social and political norms that still keep women oppressed. It is a day to acknowledge that the fight for equality and fair treatment is not over; there are still many miles to go. This misaligned power balance can still be ...
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My HIV Valentine



Valentines Day
Valentines Day, as legend has it, originated when St Valentine took it upon himself to secretly help couples tie the knot when marriage was illegal under Roman law. The Romans may have killed St Valentine when they found out, but his dedication to upholding the right to love and be loved in spite of his own personal safety is remembered and celebrated today. HIV/AIDS is a highly stigmatized and feared disease because it strikes in many the fear of death. Modern medicine has created its own St Valentine through anti-retroviral ...
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Engage the Epidemic



By Linda-Gail Bekker, Anele Ngqokwe, Sibabale Silo, Akho Mpame, & Khanyiselo Silo 2017 has arrived, and I don’t know if you can feel it but we think it’s already looking up to be a much brighter year than the last. In the spirit of the New Year it’s always good to evaluate where we are at this new starting point and then look ahead to where we want to be in a year’s time. The Starting Point: January 2017: We stand at the tipping ...
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Health Check for Human Rights



By Linda-Gail Bekker & Brian Kanyemba  Good health is fundamental for a good life. It is the trampoline spring that determines how high we bounce and what stars we reach. When a disease spins out of control and threatens the ability of large segments of a population to obtain and maintain good health, it becomes a public health issue. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has long been established as just such an issue.  While no longer a death sentence, once infected, a person faces a lifetime of chronic disease management, including adherence to ...
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By Linda-Gail Bekker, Deputy Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Women* have many gender-unique experiences. Some of these are biologically determined: falling pregnant, giving birth; others are cultural: the relief of taking off a bra and the pain of high heeled shoes.  Then there are situations that arise from gender inequality and patriarchal norms. This includes the experience of ...
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