A Community of Care

Sisters Thandazili and Sbusile live side-by-side in rural Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - the epicenter of the world's HIV epidemic. To get their HIV medications, they once walked, an hour each way, to the closest health clinic, where they would wait hours for treatment. But no more. Thanks to a CDC/PEPFAR program, they now access their treatment at a community-based antiretroviral (ART) program just steps away from their home. It's part of an innovative HIV service delivery model that brings the treatment to the patient through monthly community meetings. There, the sisters receive treatment in a convenient location – one that no longer requires them to incur travel expenses and time away from work. More than this, these community ART groups provide them a chance to meet others living with HIV in a safe environment, free from stigma. For Thandazili and Sbusile, and millions more like them, attending these group meetings helps them to stay on treatment and stay healthy. “Before you could spend an entire day trying to get your medicine,” says Thandazili. “You are hungry, you are tired. At times, I almost did not go. But now, we are able to get our medication almost in our own back yard. If one of us is starting to be discouraged, we are able to say, look, look at me, I am strong, I am healthy!”