On June 5, 1981, the first identified cases of AIDS occurred in the United States. Two years later, in 1983, South Africa also discovered the first two cases on its land. Today, it is the country with the most HIV-positive people in the world, with 7.5 million cases. One third of these people with AIDS do not take antiretroviral treatment, which is free and available to everyone in South Africa. Main reason: the waiting time to take the drugs.
as reported from Johannesburg,Romain Song
In some health centers, you sometimes have to wait a whole day to withdraw your treatment, which discourages some of the patients. To reduce this wait, drug distributors have been set up in working class areas. The first of its kind was created in 2018 in the district of Alexandra, north of Johannesburg.
When he comes home from work, Tshepiso goes to the dispensary. Earlier this week, a text message reminded her that it was time to renew her antiretroviral treatment. The race takes him a handful of minutes. “It’s fast and you do not waste time, unlike clinics where you have to stay in line long before you can pick up your medicine. It’s perfect here, she said.
A machine that looks like a cash machine
Through a machine that looks like a banking machine, Tshepiso turns to a pharmacist who appears on the screen. From a call center, the pharmacist checks his identity and his prescription. Then a robot takes care of preparing the order from a medicine cabinet that responds to all chronic diseases, as pharmacist Taffy Chinamhora explains.
“Anyone can come and take medication here, whether it’s for asthma, high blood pressure or whatever you want. This diversity of customers makes it possible to prevent any form of discrimination and not identify this building as a center for HIV-positive people, he explains. NGO Right To Care, which operates these pharmacy distributors, has opened six facilities across South Africa. 70% of the medicines taken are antiretroviral.
Also read: The AIDS virus hidden by the Covid-19 pandemic