A large chunk of our reporting focuses on HIV. Since the launch of Bhekisisa in 2013, we’ve covered HIV in-depth — from the impact of the virus on former president Nelson Mandela’s family to the advances in antiretroviral treatment and anti-HIV pills and injections. We’ve also looked at the impact of inequality and discrimination on the spread of HIV, the link between gender-based violence and HIV — and ways to fix it.
The HIV treatment dolutegravir doesn’t cause weight gain, research shows. So what’s really happening? It’s a combination of factors.
One reason is that dolutegravir isn’t as harsh as older antiretrovirals (ARVs), so it doesn’t cause weight loss. Researchers think the weight gain is a sign that someone is getting better on ARVs. Then, they’re experiencing the same issues that many other South Africans do because they don’t have easy access to healthy food.
Meanwhile, the medical establishment is grappling with its cruel treatment of obese people, who are often labelled “lazy” when the biggest reasons for weight gain aren’t in people’s control (for a range of reasons such as genetics and structural problems such as poverty). HIV doctor Francois Venter explains why the treatment of overweight people reminds him of the bad old days of the HIV epidemic.