Flagship Clinic Adapts During Crisis

In Global Advocacy, Global Featured, South Africa by Fiona Ip

Physical distance protocols have required massive adjustments to the way organizations operate—if they are able to remain open at all. But in South Africa, which has the most people living with HIV of any country in the world, shutting down operations at AHF’s flagship Ithembalabantu (People’s Hope) Clinic in Umlazi township was simply not an option.

“We had to radically revamp interior and exterior layouts of service areas to keep operations going and allow for maximum client support—and even though clients are faced with slightly longer wait times than normal, we are glad to continue supporting them as best we can during this time of crisis,” said Hilary Thulare, AHF South Africa Country Program Manager. “People here, particularly women and girls, are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, so it is absolutely critical that we continue providing the services that our clients depend on day-in and day-out.”

AHF converted a cramped, abandoned office into a clinic for 100 patients living with HIV in 2001, when access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy in South Africa was virtually non-existent. Ithembalabantu has since grown into a proud institution, recognized far beyond where it is located and currently serving 16,118 patients in a dedicated, state-of-the-art facility.

Learn more about the clinic’s history by watching “The People’s Hope” – an inspiring documentary that recounts how AHF created Ithembalabantu and uplifted thousands when there was no hope and no HIV treatment available.

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