Our community is located in one of the most rural and remote areas of South Africa. To get to the nearest clinic, one must cross the Xhora Mouth River, walk through a dense forest, and climb steep hills for three hours.

The long distance to healthcare has severely impacted our community. This inaccessibility is what prompted our Health Programme — comprised of a health point (staffed by three nurses) and community health workers who conduct daily home visits.

Even though we supported our community with primary health care, community members living with HIV were still required to go to the clinic each month to collect their ARV medication.

In 2021, we registered as a pick-up point (PuP) so that people in our community could collect their ARVs closer to home. Opening as a PuP has resulted in achieving zero ARV treatment defaults in our community. Research, and our experience, show that ongoing, easy access to medication ensures that nobody falls off their treatment.

“The biggest gap is not people never diagnosed or started on ARVs but rather people dropping outespecially in the [early] months.” 

-Lynne Wilkinson, public health expert

By sharing our experiences and the success of our community in becoming a PuP, we hope to inspire others to explore this approach and work towards implementing it in their own communities. Ensuring that individuals living with HIV have consistent access to their medication is not only a matter of health equity but also a crucial step in curbing the spread of the virus and improving the overall well-being of our communities.

We have written an op-ed article with Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism to outline how more communities can become PuPs so that more people can get ongoing, easy access to their ARV treatment.