HIV lessons inform COVID-19 response

One of the South African communities hardest hit by HIV, the town of Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal, has begun to turn the tide against the epidemic. A pilot project begun by the international nongovernmental organization Médicins Sans Frontières in 2011 included a massive distribution of free condoms, promotion of adult medical male circumcision, a schools scheme, outreach to community leaders and traditional health practitioners, mobile HIV testing vans, and the deployment of huge numbers of community health workers. National health authorities have introduced many of the initiatives piloted in Eshowe to reduce new HIV infections in other areas of South Africa. An article in The Guardian discusses how lessons from this experience are being applied to respond to another global pandemic, COVID-19 (The Guardian, 7 April 2020).