African Journal of AIDS Research <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>African Journal of AIDS Research (AJAR)</em></a> is a peer-reviewed research journal publishing papers that make an original contribution to the understanding of social dimensions of HIV/AIDS in African contexts. <em>AJAR</em> includes articles from, amongst others, the disciplines of sociology, demography, epidemiology, social geography, economics, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, health communication, media, cultural studies, public health, education, nursing science and social work. Papers relating to impact, care, prevention and social planning, as well as articles covering social theory and the history and politics of HIV/AIDS, will be considered for publication.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Subscriber information for this journal is available online <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</p> NISC en-US African Journal of AIDS Research 1727-9445 Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the publisher. <i>Editorial</i>: Reflections on the HIV and AIDS pandemic over 22 years of publishing <i>AJAR</i> <p>No abstract.</p> Alan Whiteside Mike Schramm Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 iii v <i>Commentary</i>: HIV and COVID-19: convergence, divergence and lessons for future health emergencies <p>No abstract.</p> David Wilson Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 253–256 253–256 <i>Commentary</i>Biopolitics from the Global South: a new generation takes on customary nationalism in eSwatini <p>No abstract.</p> Casey Golomski Vito Laterza Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 257–260 257–260 Beyond the discourses of policy and power: HIV, AIDS, and community perspectives on the lived pandemic <p>As HIV unfolded in the 1980s, HIV and AIDS were heard and seen through the lives of those whom it touched directly. Personal histories were foregrounded, centred by the inevitable mortality attached to HIV infection, the courage of circumstance in the face of illness, and the activism necessary to make a difference. In the later part of the decade, the impacts of HIV were most apparent in East Africa, where community responses and political leadership coalesced to reduce new HIV infections. The 1990s marked a turn towards centralised policy, funding, and the reification of biomedically oriented approaches and systems that are intrinsically top-down. This biomedical turn centred on foregrounding the widespread availability of low-cost antiretroviral therapy and was articulated in the 90-90-90 and subsequent targets. Biomedicalisation reinforces individualised approaches to health primarily focused on biomedical technologies and health service provision that do not rely on community or social organisation formats. Emphasis on HIV treatment, along with the promise of reduced HIV transmission through viral load suppression, contributed to limiting socio-behavioural approaches to HIV prevention. While the importance of community-led response was highlighted in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, community-led response has devolved towards concepts such as community-led monitoring and community-led response that frame responses in direct relation to the dominant biomedical paradigm. There are lessons in the history of the AIDS response that demonstrate that communities formulate responses to AIDS differently when there have been opportunities for community members to determine the pathways for action to address HIV independently. Older research studies offer retrospective insights into moments in the history of HIV when communities were foregrounded and highlighted the need to reconsider the current trajectory of the HIV response. Not only for history’s sake but to acknowledge that community leadership remains overwhelmed by elites. While lofty targets and goals drive the contemporary HIV response, the way forward is mired by uncertainty. HIV prevention efforts remain uneven, and millions of people living with HIV depend on access to treatment for decades to come in the context of budgetary uncertainties. Changing the course of AIDS will not be achieved if we fail to ensure that communities occupy a genuine and unambiguous place in shaping HIV response.&nbsp;</p> Warren Parker Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 261–268 261–268 The role of the social sciences and humanities in pandemic preparedness responses: insights gained from COVID-19, HIV and AIDS and related epidemics <p>Africa. The multiple effects included well-documented HIV service interruptions, curtailment of HIV prevention programmes, the associated marked increase in both the risk for HIV infection among key populations and vulnerability of sub-populations (e.g. adolescent girls and young women) who are the focus of these programmes and — as importantly but less well-documented — the diverse negative socio-economic effects that accentuate HIV risk and vulnerability generally (e.g. loss of earnings, gender-based violence, stigma, police harassment of people during “lockdowns”). The global biomedical response to COVID-19 was necessary and remarkable for mitigating the bio-physical impacts of the pandemic (e.g. wide-spread surveillance coupled with rapid updates on the epidemiology of infections, rapid development of vaccines and revisions of treatment). However, drawing upon the widespread criticisms of state responses to the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and of “lockdowns” themselves, this article elaborates a core argument within those criticisms, namely that key lessons learnt during the HIV and AIDS and other pandemics were ignored, at least during the early stages of COVID-19. Our critique is that better integration of the social sciences and humanities in responses to pandemics can counter the reflex tendency to uncritically adopt a biomedical paradigm and, more importantly, to enable consideration of the social determinants of health in pandemic responses. At root, we re-assert a key value of ‘integrated’ interventions, namely the accommodation of context-sensitive considerations in the formulation of strategies, policies, plans and programme designs. </p> Kaymarlin Govender Judith King Patrick Nyamaruze Tim Quinlan Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 269–275 269–275 Equity of the HIV epidemic response in 13 African countries <p>For over 25 years, new programs to attempt to stem the HIV epidemic have been developed in Africa by country governments as well as external donors. These programs and activities have built and operated facilities, trained clinicians, financed drugs and commodities, supported and helped finance government health planning and operations, and contributed in other ways. Who has benefited from this massive mobilization? While some single country and narrowly focused studies have been done, the issue of equity of HIV programs for vulnerable populations has not been examined in a large set of countries. Using Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) data, we examine equity of the HIV programs in 13 African countries to determine if vulnerable groups (such as those with low wealth, rural populations, young adults, and females) have achieved comparable levels of access to HIV program services. In contrast, we also compare the equity of the HIV response to rural and low-wealth populations with the equity of corresponding domestic health systems using Demographic and Health Survey data. This study found that in over half of the countries, the HIV response indicators were equitable for vulnerable population segments including the low-wealth population (in seven countries) and rural population segment (in nine countries). In no country was the domestic health system equitable for these two groups. However, HIV programming does show some clear patterns of inequity for low-wealth and rural populations in some countries. For gender and young adults, the HIV response indicators show that in all 13 countries men and young adults are consistently underserved relative to their counterparts. </p> Gary Gaumer V. S. Senthil Kumar William Crown Monica Jordan Clare Hurley Maya Subramanian A. K. Nandakumar Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 276–289 276–289 Corruption is making people sick <p>According to Transparency International, of the US$7.5 trillion spent globally on health each year, US$500 billion is lost to corruption.1 This article deals with the topic of corruption in the health sector in sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on how it affects persons living with HIV and their families. It begins with a definition of corruption and outlines the types of activities, people and institutions that fall within that definition in the context of HIV/AIDS. Examples are provided of what happens in practice and the types of persons (in terms of their societal roles) who yield to corruption, and how and why they commit it. The effects of corruption in health and in the fight against HIV/ AIDS are then considered, drawing on published research on the costs to institutions and society. For example, HIV prevalence among women is higher than men, yet their reliance on health services plagued by corruption makes them vulnerable to abuse, blocking access to vital contraceptive, HIV testing, and reproductive and child health services. Attention is then focused on the factors that encourage the adoption of corrupt practices and what approaches have been taken to try to counter them. This includes a review and analysis of the steps that have been taken to strengthen compliance, governance and accountability and why attempts to deal with corruption have met with little success. This article suggests a new approach — harnessing digitalisation — to combat corruption more quickly and effectively, pointing out that corruption is both a major factor contributing to inefficiency and is harming peoples’ health. This article aims to raise interest and renew efforts in fighting corruption in health.&nbsp;</p> Arlette Campbell White Oliver Charles Campbell White Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 290 305 Influences on decision-making about disclosure of HIV status by adolescents and young adults living with HIV in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa <p><em>Background</em>: Adolescents and young adults living with HIV (AYA) are faced with the challenge of living with a life-long chronic condition. We investigated the influences on the decisions by AYA to disclose their HIV status to family, intimate partners and friends.<br><em>Methods</em>: Twenty AYA aged between 15 and 24 years were purposely selected through local community-based organisations in eThekwini municipality and uMkhanyakude district in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. Virtual in-depth interviews were conducted between September 2020 to October 2021 using a topic guide focusing on HIV-status disclosure and the impact of stigma on decision-making capacity. An iterative thematic process was used for analysis.<br><em>Results</em>: Findings revealed the challenges that AYA experience for disclosure because of stigma and how this impacts their decision-making capacity. Family and friends influenced AYA in processing their discovery of their HIV status offering support needed to manage living with HIV. However, for some AYA disclosing to relatives, friends and intimate partners was difficult because of fears of rejection and recrimination. The act of disclosure was influenced by both internalised and external stigma and the type of relationships and interactions that AYA had with relatives, friends and caregivers.<br><em>Conclusions</em>: The decision to disclose is challenging for AYA because of the fear of rejection, along with internal and external stigma. The provision of support, whether from family or peers, is important. Enhancing the decision-making capacity of AYA is essential for developing their self-esteem as well as supporting future healthcare choices.</p> Thandeka Smith Janet Seeley Maryam Shahmanesh Christina Psaros Chiedza Munikwa Nothando Ngwenya Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 306–315 306–315 Interventions to improve young men’s utilisation of HIV-testing services in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: perspectives of young men and health care providers <p><em>Introduction</em>: HIV-testing services (HTS) are an important point of entry to prevention and treatment of HIV in South Africa. Despite the availability of HTS across the region and in SA, the uptake among men remains low, especially young men residing in rural and peri-urban communities. This study aimed to explore interventions that could improve the uptake of HTS among young men in KwaZulu-Natal.<br><em>Methods</em>: A descriptive exploratory qualitative study was conducted in which 17 young men and two health care providers in Ladysmith were purposively and conveniently sampled. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews using WhatsApp and landline audio calls between September and December 2021 and thematically analysed.<br><em>Results</em>: An improvement in the health care provider attitudes and service delivery, establishment of adherence clubs for young people living with HIV, ensuring a diverse and balanced health care provider staff composition at primary health care facilities, and increased demand creation in spaces frequented by men are vital for enhancing access and utilisation of HTS among young men. Additionally, health care providers believe that the presence of male health care providers, investment in health education, prioritising men in the morning at the primary health care facilities, and the establishment of male clinics within communities as key factors in improving the uptake of HTS among young men.<br><em>Conclusion</em>: To attract and retain young men in HTS and in HIV treatment and care, several improvements at primary health care facilities need to be implemented. These should focus on addressing the specific needs and preferences of young men, ensuring their comfort and engagement in health care.</p> Sithembiso Ndlovu Andrew Ross Mutshidzi Mulondo Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 316 326 A document analysis of the <i>South African national guidelines</i> for <i>medical male circumcision</i> and the implications for infant and child male circumcision decision-making <p>South Africa’s 2016 medical male circumcision (MMC) guidelines (“the guidelines”) provide direction for the MMC programme’s implementation in South Africa. The aim of our document analysis was to assess the guidelines, particularly in lieu of changing guidance from WHO and PEPFAR. We then assessed how the guidelines might be applied to infant and child male circumcision (ICMC). The analysis was performed by reviewing South Africa’s guidelines, along with international documents used in developing those guidelines, to identify the historical development of the guidelines, as well as the implications for MMC and ICMC decision-making within the South African context. The following principles were analysed within the context of South Africa’s guidelines: (1) quality and safety; (2) informed consent; (3) confidentiality; (4) human rights; and (5) accessibility of services. Tthe document analysis also identified ambiguities that exist in the guidelines, particularly regarding consent, recognising religious or cultural exemptions, and guaranteeing the best interests of the child. South Africa’s MMC guidelines could benefit from incorporating common definitions to assist with interpretation and understanding, thus preventing confusion and controversy among programme planners, parents and boys. The guidelines were made available in 2016 and recommendations for circumcision have evolved as new research and information has become available. South Africa’s National Department of Health should review and update these guidelines, with a focus on both MMC and ICMC issues, so that they reflect the most up-to-date, accurate information available, to avoid inconsistent practices, risks, and litigation in the management of the programme. This study was situated within a qualitative paradigm and applied a social choice theory perspective to make sense of the MMC guidelines. The study concludes that future policy revisions should develop a broader understanding of the complex medical male circumcision decision-making process, particularly faced by parents. </p> Eurica L Palmer Steven Forsythe Copyright (c) 2024 2024-01-29 2024-01-29 22 4 327–333 327–333