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Taking Care of our HIV Positive Members

PostedNovember 28, 2017

AID for AIDS

HIV is a manageable chronic disease, just like any other chronic condition. There have been major advances in the understanding of the disease as well as developments in its management. Gone are the days when it would be taken as a death sentence.

Fedhealth has a specific benefit called Aid for AIDS (AfA) that caters for our members who are infected with HIV/AIDS. To date there are 2 238 beneficiaries registered on the programme, some of whom are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) already. Since the beginning of 2017, an additional 185 Fedhealth patients have registered on the programme. The benefits of being on the programme – over and above the payment of the necessary medicine and pathology claims – include support and advice on how to manage the condition. This entails both clinical and emotional support. Members are routinely called by counsellors to check how they are doing, receive reminders when they are due for bloods tests, etc.

The purpose of antiretroviral therapy is to suppress viral replication as far as possible and for as long as possible. The ideal is to durably suppress viral load in the blood to below the level of detection. Viral suppression allows reconstitution of immune system function and prevents development of opportunistic infections and other AIDS-related conditions. This prolongs life expectancy and improves quality of life. Viral suppression also prevents transmission of the virus to uninfected individuals. As a result of the support provided, 94% of the beneficiaries on the programme have a supressed viral load i.e. are doing well. Research has shown that patients who take their medicine accordingly improve their body’s defence mechanism and will have reduced incidence of opportunistic infections (infections due to a weakened immune system) and live a near normal lifespan.

Patients with low CD4 counts are susceptible to more serious opportunistic infections than those with higher CD4 counts. They are hence deemed to be in later stage disease and tend to have higher costs than patients who are in earlier stage. Earlier stage enrolment is encouraged to ensure that patients commence ART at the optimal time. The goal is to minimise the percentage of patients registering with CD4 counts less than 200 and Fedhealth is pleased that 80% of our patients have registered relatively early, with a CD4 count above 200.

In addition to the improved quality of life, this means that one’s healthcare costs are effectively managed as there will be few hospitalisations and other related costs as a result of opportunistic infections. Furthermore, having the disease managed also means one can remain economically active and thus able to provide for and take care of their family.

Remember HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence, it can be managed. If you want more information, please contact the HIV disease manager on 0860 100 646 or email afa@afadm.co.za for a confidential conversation.

 

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.