SOUTH AFRICA – The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) has been awarded a grant of US$547 million from the international organization Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria.
Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics through mobilizing and investing more than US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in more than 100 countries.
The organization partners with governments, civil society, technical agencies, the private sector and affected communities to respond to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as well as build resilient and sustainable systems for health.
The US$547 million grant donated to South Africa will further support prevention and treatment programs for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis across the country for the period April 2022 – March 2025.
It will be implemented by the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (GF-CCM) which is a multi-stakeholder structure mandated by the Global Fund to oversee grant implementation and features representatives from government, civil society, development partners and the private sector.
The funding will further support the South African National AIDS Council in bringing together government, civil society and the private sector to create a collective response to HIV, TB and STIs with the ultimate goal of eliminating the three epidemics as public health threats in South Africa.
In addition, a new highly effective, long-acting injectable HIV preventive treatment has been rolled out by UNITAID in South Africa to bolster the fight against HIV virus.
The injectable version of pre-exposure prophylaxis has been found to be more effective than daily oral PrEP in reducing the risk of HIV infection, with just six injections a year.
The new medication also seeks to address the slow uptake in the existing oral medication that prevents HIV in 99 per cent of cases but has missed targets in reducing new infections.
Moreover, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority recently approved the use of the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring for women 18 years and older to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Dapivirine is an antiretroviral drug that belongs to a class of medicines known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors that work against HIV by blocking its ability to make copies of itself once inside a healthy cell.
The dapivirine vaginal ring will help minimize side effects of HIV infection in woman and girls as well as reduce the risk of developing HIV resistance.
Additionally, the ring offers women a discrete way to reduce their HIV risk when they cannot or choose not to use higher efficacy methods like daily prevention pills.