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Informal settlements crucial to Ekurhuleni HIV response

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

With more than 100 informal settlements in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, taking HIV prevention and care into communities is crucial in addressing the metro’s high HIV prevalence rate, says local government.

The HSRC 2012 national HIV prevalence survey found that HIV prevalence among informal settlements remains high (File photo)

The HSRC 2012 national HIV prevalence survey found that HIV prevalence among informal settlements remains high (File photo)

“In Ekurhuleni, we have 119 informal settlements,” said Makhusazana Maluleke, who heads the health and social development portfolio as a Member of the Mayoral Committee. “We know people in those areas are unemployed and sexually active, which increases the rate of HIV.”

Maluleke was speaking at a recent two-day conference hosted by the Ekurhuleni AIDS Council.

The Human Sciences Research Council 2012 national HIV prevalence survey found that HIV prevalence among informal settlements remains high, which authors argued “point to structural drivers of the epidemic, especially poverty, as important contributing factors in the spread of HIV.”

Maluleke added that municipal health services conduct HIV prevention education outreach to informal settlements, and distribute male and female condoms at local shebeens.

Ekurhuleni Mayor Mondli Gungubele also said that drivers of HIV infection, including low levels of education, contributed to the metro having an HIV prevalence rate higher than the provincial average.

“Ekurhuleni has done so much In respect of HIV/AIDS yet still so many lives have been lost,” he told OurHealth.

Lucille Stevenson said that the metro could achieve ambitious targets laid out in the National Strategic HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis by linking with traditional healers like her.

“If we can work together with the health workers in a sense that us on the ground we identify (patients) and health workers support (them)… I believe that can also help in reducing the rate of HIV in Ekurhuleni,” she told OurHealth.

Members of the Ekurhuleni AIDS Council cited studies showing an increase in male urethritis syndrome in 2013/14. An inflammation of the urethra, or pipe that carried urine away from the bladder and allows it to pass out of the body, the condition can be caused by STIs such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia. STIs have been linked to an increase risk for contracting HIV but also, in some cases, an increased risk of passing the virus to others.
– Health-e News.

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98