2021 News

Online Youth Month Dialogues

Youth Day on 16 June is a public holiday in South Africa and commemorates a protest which is known as the Soweto uprising of 1976.  Thousands of black students protested against an official order which made Afrikaans compulsory in black township schools throughout the country by marching from their schools to Orlando Stadium. When the police responded, many children were shot and killed.

Sparking off thousands of similar protests in South Africa, this tragic event showcased the power of the youth to drive social change.

In the current era, HIV poses another, different challenge to a new generation of youth. Young people, especially young women (aged 15-24 years), bear a high risk of HIV infection, three times that of their male counterparts.

This Youth Month TB HIV Care and its sister page Young Wild and Free South Africa (YWFSA) have the following interactive online events available to discuss topics that affect the youth of South Africa today:

Event 1: Gender Based Violence and economic strengthening

Date: 18 June 2021

Time: 12:00 pm

Platform: Facebook @tbhivcare

Link: https://www.facebook.com/tbhivcare



Event 2: Harm Reduction and Youth

Date: 18 June 2021

Time: 17:30 pm

Platform: Facebook @YWFSA

Link: https://www.facebook.com/YWFSA



Event 3: How does GBV affect vulnerability to HIV?

Date: 21 June 2021

Time: 18:00 pm

Platform: Twitter @TBHIVCare

Link: https://twitter.com/TBHIVCare



Event 4: Gender Based Violence and economic strengthening part 2

Date: 24 June 2021

Time: 12:00pm

Platform: Facebook @tbhivcare

Link: https://www.facebook.com/tbhivcare



Event 5: Sexuality

Date: 25 June 2021

Time: 17:30 pm

Platform: Facebook @YWFSA

Link: https://www.facebook.com/YWFSA

How does GBV affect vulnerability to HIV?

Date: Monday, 21 June 2021
18:00 CAT
Hashtag to use: 
Moderating account:
Topic: How does GBV affect your vulnerability to HIV?


Join us for a 60-minute session with our panel experts. All stakeholders including healthcare workers, survivors and the public etc. locally and globally are welcome. The public transcript will be recorded by Symplur.

T1: What is the relationship between gender-based violence and HIV?
T2: How do gender roles contribute to vulnerability to gender-based violence and HIV infection?

T3: How do we differentiate between gender-based violence and intimate partner violence? Are they the same thing? If not, how are they different?

T4: Does GBV affect young people differently to older people?

T5: What can be done to address gender-based violence and reduce the risk of being infected with HIV?
CT: (Closing Thoughts): Do you have anything you want to add about the link between gender-based violence and HIV in South Africa?



Start your answers with T1, T2, T3, T4 or CT for transcript purposes.
Answer only after the moderator prompts. Questions will be prompted every 10 minutes, but keep answers coming using the relevant T and number. Both panel experts and public attendees are encouraged to participate.
Use the #TBHIVCare hashtag in all tweets so you are visible to others in the chat.

Everyone is welcome to join locally and globally. Our transcript will be recorded on www.symplur.com.


South Africa has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) in the world. According to Stats SA one in five women (21%) has experienced physical violence by a partner, and according to ONE (global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease) the rate of femicide is equivalent to the rate of fatalities experienced by countries at war.

GBV puts women at risk of HIV. UNAIDS reports that in sub-Saharan Africa, women who have experienced intimate partner violence are 50% more likely to be living with HIV. Marginalised groups, such as female sex workers, transgendered people and women who use drugs experience even higher rates of GBV, and are also at greater risk of being infected with HIV.

As well as being a public health issue in its own right, GBV is therefore also intimately linked to other global pandemics, such as HIV and now, COVID-19. It is reported that during the first week of the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa in 2020, reported cases of GBV rose by 30%.

Some of the areas where improvements have been suggested are in policing, the economic empowerment of women and general community awareness.

Police’s handling of GBV cases has been criticized, with some reports that police are sometimes unwilling to intervene in what is perceived to be a private matter. When marginalised groups such as transgender people, female sex workers or women who use drugs are involved, it is even more difficult to access police support due to the strained relationship that often exists between these groups and law enforcement.

Some GBV survivors are unable to remove themselves from abusive relationships because they are financially dependent on their abusers. The systemic economic empowerment of women may therefore be one way to address GBV.

With GBV such a vastly widespread issue that presents a real, daily threat for millions of people around the country, it appears that communities have not yet rejected GBV as unacceptable behaviour. More awareness is needed to combat the “abantu bazothini syndrome” (“what will people say”) or none of my business attitude that keeps many from speaking out against GBV.

CHWs’ heroic role in the COVID-19 pandemic

South Africa was placed under National Alert Level 5 lockdown on March 26, 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the onset, community health workers (CHWs) were the foot soldiers at the forefront of the country’s response, continuing with their usual care services as well as adopting new ones – performing surveillance activities for early COVID-19 case identification, contact tracing, and facilitating referrals for COVID-19 testing. Initially, many CHWs felt overwhelmed, fearful and confused as to what their role was in the midst of a global crisis, especially with Cape Town being a hotspot for COVID-19 cases.
To prepare them to take on these important additional tasks, CHWs were provided with occupational guidance and training on COVID-19 (signs and symptoms, mode of spread, risk factors etc), and infection prevention and control principles (personal protective equipment, social distancing, etc). TB HIV Care’s Human Resources and wellness team availed themselves to provide debriefing.
The community health workers then assisted through these two main activities:
• Community and household COVID-19 screenings.
CHWs conducted mass screenings, educating the community about the COVID-19 virus, and encouraging community members to wear masks, wash their hands and maintain a physical distance to others. They identified those at risk (55 years and older, people with underlying health conditions) and alerted them of their risk.
They responded to referrals received from the health facilities to contact clients who had tested positive for COVID-19 and educate both client and family on self-isolation. CHWs were able to refer clients who could not self-isolate at home to quarantine and isolation facilities. They also referred all contacts and community members who were symptomatic to the health facility for testing. CHWs were also present at the health facilities to screen all patients before they entered the facility.
A total of 281 867 clients were screened. All these clients were also screened for TB.
• Distribution of chronic medication
Prior to COVID-19, CHWs would distribute chronic medication at sites away from the health facilities and clients would collect the medication from those sites. With the advent of the pandemic, and the need to reduce people congregating in particular areas, this activity evolved into CHWs making home deliveries with chronic medication. A total of 41 012 packages were delivered.
CHWs played a critical role in raising community awareness and supporting the health facilities to continue to provide services. The activities of the CHWs were key in reducing the spread of COVID-19.