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Central clinic welcomes foreign dignitaries

The key population-friendly service centre’s idealogy is to provide professional, socially conscious and caring services to marginalised groups in need.

Delegates from Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) recently paid a visit to the key population clinic at Skinner Street, Pretoria Central to gain knowledge on implementing similar initiatives in their own countries.

Since the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) opened the clinic last June it has been a beacon of hope for marginalised residents who wish to receive healthcare without judgement.

The key population-friendly service centre aims to provide professional, socially conscious and caring services to marginalised groups in need.

The “key population”, according to the department, refers to individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, people who use and inject drugs, female sex workers, and men who sleep with men and inmates.

Ezinne Okey-Uchendu, the assistant director at the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS who was at the clinic on June 3, said the visit to Skinner Clinic would assist in strengthening services for key population members in their country.

“This experience has been worthwhile. We are looking forward to implementing the guidelines and strategies we received from the GDoH to ensure these vulnerable groups in Nigeria are given the services needed to protect themselves against HIV and STIs and ensure they have availability of treatment,” Okey-Uchendu said.

The GDoH has expressed its intention to expand these centres across the province as part of its efforts to create a more inclusive healthcare system. The expansion also intends to bring the services rendered in a confidential and non-discriminatory manner as key population members often face discrimination and stigma.

The facility provides the following core interventions targeted to key populations:

– Condom, lubricant provision and education linkage

– HIV prevention package including behavioural intervention information

– HIV testing, counselling, treatment and care

– Prevention and treatment for co-infections including viral hepatitis, TB and mental health conditions

– Sexual and reproductive health services

In February, the GDoH noted an increase in STI infections. Between April and December 2023, a total of 167 109 males presented at public health facilities across the province and 67 400 (40%) were treated for male urethritis syndrome (MUS). MUS symptoms include a discharge, as well as a burning sensation when urinating and may, if left untreated include pain and swelling of the testes.

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The MUS data reflects newly acquired STIs. In 2020, the MUS rate in the province was recorded at 12% and increased to 15% in 2023.

Region 7 Bronkhorstspruit was one of the several sub-districts that indicated increased MUS numbers.

The GDoH said this region includes farming areas, where cultural norms hinder the uptake of services, especially among men.

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