South Africa’s 55,910,000 population comprises the world’s biggest HIV epidemic: an unusually high 18.9% adult people living with HIV (PLHIV)—varying by region—and 270,000 new infections in 2016. Nationwide 320,000 children are infected.
Men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender women, sex workers and people who inject drugs (PWID) experience even higher rates: sex workers nationally 57.7%, in Johannesburg an astonishing 71.8%., yet not many are getting Antiretroviral therapy (ART). The rate of infection among young women is 4 times greater than among same-age men.
High levels of stigma, homophobia and ignorance prevent many people living with HIV (PLHIV) from getting the health care they need.
Yet there is ground for hope. South Africa has the largest Antiretroviral therapy (ART) program in the world, a huge investment. It was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to approve PrEP. It now has a progressive national HIV policy for sex workers, although on the ground, the program meets resistance from local authorities.
(Figures from AVERT, 2016)
Two groups in South Africa extremely affected by the epidemic are truckers and sex workers. Pomona is a truck stop where there’s a lot of contact between them.
North Star Alliance Clinic, Pomona Truck Stop
Johannesburg, South Africa
If only the stigma goes down and people are coming to do the test…
North Star Alliance has 36 blue box clinics operating across 10 countries in Africa. One of them is located in Pomona Truck Stop, Johannesburg. In 2015 more then 250 thousand people visited these clinics.
The North Star Alliance clinics are an important weapon to fight the HIV and AIDS epidemic among hard-to reach populations, like truck drivers and sex workers.