“If you are stable.. then they should even be giving us our pills for 3 months or even 6 months”

Once on treatment, it is important to recognise that people living with HIV live dynamic lives, may miss appointments, and may even miss taking some pills. The majority of people who miss or are late for appointments need it to be made easier to collect treatment, yet often when people return to the clinic they are treated badly.

For Elsa* it feels like one “mistake” of missing an appointment date has wiped out all the careful treatment adherence she has worked on and because of this she’s now being punished by her clinic and made to go back to a monthly refill. This poor treatment is one of ten issues raised in our new Ritshidze State of Health for North West report launched today. Read Elsa’s story here.

The Potchefstroom local has used Mimosa Clinic in the town since 2007. It was when she was diagnosed HIV positive and she was initiated on treatment there.

“Everything has been fine and I never had any problems before, so they were giving me two months. That was good. But I think that if you are stable, like I am, then they should even be giving us our pills for three months or even six months.”

“In February I missed an appointment date — my first time ever — and they didn’t want to understand or let me explain, they just put me back to one month,” she says, speaking in Afrikaans. 

“I am not happy; this was a first time mistake. Going to the clinic isn’t easy; I wake up early to walk there and to be there by 7am. And then I will only leave around 4pm. The staff are slow and everything takes long. I sit there with the chronic patients, like those with diabetes, and you can see they are suffering sitting there the whole day with no food or water,” she says. 

The long waiting time in the clinic she says is made worse when there are emergencies. There are staff shortages, she says, and this means when there are inevitable emergencies, which means everything is backed up and patients wait even longer.  

“One time there was a woman who was in labour and another time someone came after being stabbed. When it’s like that all the nurses rush there and they just leave us like that, we just have to sit,” she says. 

Another reason Elsa says clinic visits at Mimosa Clinic are a bad experience is that patients are often made to wait outside the facility. She says even though Mimosa Clinic is a 24-hour facility, the morning shift cleaning staff arrive at the same time when most of the patients arrive — around 7am. 

“They start to clean then but they will make the patients wait outside. It can be cold or raining but you have to stand outside. I don’t understand that if it’s a 24-hour clinic why they can’t clean in the time before patients come there.” 

“It’s not nice to go to the clinic like that and now I have to do this every month,” she says.

* Name changed to protect identity



“Ritshidze” — meaning “Saving Our Lives” in TshiVenda — has been developed by people living with HIV and activists to hold the South African government and aid agencies accountable to improve overall HIV and TB service delivery.

Partner organisations include the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the National Association of People Living with HIV (NAPWA), Positive Action Campaign, Positive Women’s Network (PWN) and the South African Network of Religious Leaders Living with and affected by HIV/AIDS (SANERELA+)—in alliance with Health Global Access Project (Health GAP), the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

CLICK HERE to read more and see where we work.