Scaling up HIV testing in resource constrained settings: Debates on the role of VCT and Routine ‘Opt-in or Opt-out’ HIV Testing
As a young adult, Clarence ‘Bizzah’ Mini jumped the border to join umKhonto weSizwe, trained with the June 16th Detachment in Angola and survived ‘the Boers’; in exile, he was trained and qualified as a doctor; in early middle age, he returned to South Africa just as the Aids epidemic was taking hold, became an Aids activist and worked tirelessly against HIV, which killed three million of his compatriots over the following two decades. But this week, Dr Clarence Mini, was eventually felled by Covid-19, a coronavirus nobody had drawn up battle plans for.
Yesterday I reached out to a close friend and comrade of mine in England. We both studied at Oxford University and then spent two decades in the trenches trying to defeat HIV. Now she’s in London. She replied to my inquiry about her well-being by sending a sad and eerie video of the streets of London and with an admission: “It’s very, very hard.”
Moody’s would have known that downgrading SA at this moment would place our government in even greater difficulty in confronting Covid-19 and hobble it in the reconstruction that must follow its aftermath. But they went ahead anyway.
Last week felt like a bad week for runners. The Two Oceans was cancelled; the London Marathon postponed; the Comrades held on by a thread, and then came the news that parkruns were suspended. It was a loss. But just as parkruns are a place for thought and value, pressing the pause on parkruns can help us put Covid-19 in perspective. Let me tell you why.
Although Covid-19 has changed our lives, forced us out of our offices and brought many things to an abrupt halt, there are some needs that don’t go away. Human rights violations of poor and marginalised people continue – and sadly, can even increase at times like this. Recognising this, South Africa’s well-respected not-for-profit legal service sector has come up with a plan.
In the face of broken public health systems and populations weakened by hunger and communicable disease, particularly HIV and TB, an uncontrolled Covid-19 outbreak in southern Africa could wreak havoc and set back development, democracy and human rights by decades.
According to President Ramaphosa Covid-19 is ‘a medical emergency far graver than what the world has experienced in over a century’. He told the nation that: ‘Never before in the history of our democracy has our country been confronted with such a severe situation.’