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Long Form

Long Form Journalism by the Bhekisisa Team

‘I missed a dose for the first time’: How the KZN floods derailed HIV...

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The April 2022 floods in KwaZulu-Natal, left Mfundo Shezi without HIV treatment for two weeks. He had no way of getting more because the centre he frequents was closed for two weeks – and his ID book was washed away.

Out of ‘T’ and out of hope – SA’s trans men face year 2...

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A stockout of the version of testosterone (made by Pfizer) used by state facilities and nonprofits is entering its second year. It’s left transgender men in South Africa, who use the hormone as part of gender-affirming treatment, with few options. Find out what lengths they’re forced to go to get the medicine.

What happened to HIV activist Zackie Achmat?

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Zackie Achmat was one of the most vociferous voices against former president Thabo Mbeki’s HIV denialism in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He now lives in downtown Cape Town and fights state capture — and broken trains.

SA’s moonlight sonata: The illegal cash cow draining specialist care at state hospitals

Specialist doctors at many state facilities aren’t showing up to work despite earning millions of rands a year in taxpayer money. The consequences for patient health can be devastating but not everyone agrees on the solutions.

Kids are having sex. We need to help teen moms, not punish them

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Otlotleng Moolikwe fell pregnant after having sex with her boyfriend when she was 13 years old. And she’s not the only one. One in six South African teenagers between 15 and 19 years old have had a child. Here’s how to help them stay in school.

‘If men are these monsters’: Life in the fray of SA’s gender-based violence projects

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South Africa is rushing to roll out its first national gender-based violence action plan. But as bureaucracy and the coronavirus pandemic stall progress, violence against women continues unabated. And the hot spots that will receive extra resources, it seems, have been wrongly identified.

#SayHerName: The faces of South Africa’s femicide epidemic

This is an ode to the women whose names made it into news outlets between 2018 and 2020. It’s also a tribute to those who didn’t – the faceless, nameless women whose stories will remain untold. This project is a collaboration among Bhekisisa, Media Hack and the Canon Collins Trust.

Trials, tinsel & tango: Go inside Linda-Gail Bekker’s COVID world

Linda-Gail Bekker says researching infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and HIV is like a colossal round of the murder mystery cluedo. Follow the story of the scientist with the purple pixie-cut from a farm in Zimbabwe to her inauguration as the first African president of the International Aids Society and beyond.

‘Where the governments see statistics, I see the faces of my friends’

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Yvette Raphael describes herself as a ‘professional protester, sjambok feminist and hater of trash’. Government officials would likely refer to her as ‘a rebel’. She’s fought for equality her entire life, she says. And she’s scared of no one.

What developing countries can teach the Global North about how to respond to a...

When it comes to leadership and innovation, there's much that industrialised nations can learn. Nine months into the pandemic, Europe remains one of...

Why COVID school closures are making girls marry early

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The pandemic’s impact is long-term: the UN warns that it could lead to 13 million more child marriages over a decade.

From stranded to solitude: How the short-lived relief of repatriation could be people’s tipping...

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As South Africa enters level two of its national lockdown, international travel remains restricted. One of the few exceptions are repatriation flights, which require a mandatory quarantine period. But the toll of mounting stress and isolation may have long-term consequences on people’s mental health.

The lost particles of grief: How COVID-19 is changing death

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From grandmothers to gravediggers, the sudden, suffocating deaths of the coronavirus pandemic is affecting people in all sectors of South African society. Here’s one...

A tale of two pandemics: Is COVID-19 repeating the mistakes of HIV’s past?

In South Africa, two outbreaks are colliding and one thing may shape the future of both.

The unbearable loneliness of COVID-19

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There are no visiting hours for COVID-19 patients. Instead, there’s anxiety, fear, stigma and potential grief. But there’s also — at least some — resilience.

The dark smell of illness: One family’s struggle for news from inside the ICU

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You can’t visit family members with COVID-19 in hospital. So how do you find out how they’re doing? Mia Malan from the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism documented one woman’s story.