As we highlight World Aids Day on 1 December it is encouraging to see there have been major advances in the understanding of the disease as well as developments in its management over the last decade. Gone are the days when it would be taken as a death sentence. Today HIV is a manageable chronic disease like any other chronic condition.
Fedhealth’s Principal Officer, Peter Jordan says to date Fedhealth has over 2000 beneficiaries who are infected with HIV/Aids and that are registered on the Aid for Aids programme. He says some are on antiretroviral therapy already and others not as yet. “There are a number of benefits of being on the programme. Over and above the payment of the necessary medicine and pathology claims, the programme provides beneficiaries with much needed support and advice on how to manage the condition. This entails both clinical and emotional support. They are routinely called by counsellors to check how they are doing, receive reminders when they are due for bloods tests etc,” says Jordan.
The results are encouraging with as many as 90% of the beneficiaries doing well on the programme. Jordan says research has shown that beneficiaries who take their medicine regularly improve their bodies defence mechanism and will have a substantially reduced incidence of opportunistic infections which are largely caused from a weakened immune system. “This effectively means they will live a near normal life-span with an improved quality of life and fewer hospitalisations allowing them to remain economically active and provide for their family.”
Jordan says it is important to remember that HIV/Aids is not a death sentence. It can be managed successfully and anyone wanting more details can contact one of the National Aids Training, Information and Counselling Centres (ATICCS) which can be found on www.AidforAids.co.za for a confidential conversation.