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When non-adherence to ARVs is a risk to your health.

Intentional and unintentional adherence to HIV medication (ARV’s) can result in serious consequences to your health.

When non-adherence to ARVs is a risk to your health.

Adherence counselling

Dr Avron Urison says that the prescription of medicine is an essential component of the delivery of health care, given its function to not only relieve symptoms or cure conditions but also to prevent poor health in the future. Consequently, there is a need for thorough adherence counselling, so as to guide people living with HIV, particularly in South Africa, on how they can keep HIV under control and lower the risk of developing viral resistance.

In the same light, Urison stated that incorporating a behavioural element to adherence interventions, for HIV-positive South Africans who are on treatment, has the potential to increase effectiveness. This is due to the fact that educational efforts alone are not enough to promote adherence to medication, especially in people living with HIV.

“Generally, improving how people take their medication has a far greater impact on clinical outcomes than an improvement in treatments,” he said. “In the case of people living with HIV, they need to be helped to understand that missing medication doses regularly, or changing the time medication is taken, enables the virus to defeat the ARVs sooner.”

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Intentional and unintentional non-adherence

“Non-adherence is a hidden problem because many people are reluctant to express doubts or concerns about the medication prescribed to them fearing that it will displease their doctors,” said Urison. “As such, it is the duty of the medical practitioners to always explain the purpose of the treatment to the person living with HIV, and openly discuss the pros and cons of proposed medicines.”

He said that, in turn, the HIV-positive person should always disclose to their doctor’s factors such as difficulties with reading or speaking English, physical or learning disabilities, as well as sight or hearing problems which may affect their understanding of how they should correctly take the medication.

Furthermore, Urison recommended that people, in general, need to understand that there are two categories of non-adherence; intentional and unintentional. Intentional non-adherence occurs when the person decides not to follow the treatment recommendations.

On the other hand, unintentional non-adherence occurs when an individual intends to follow the doctor’s recommendation of taking a certain number of pills at a specific time. However, this invention is prevented by uncontrollable circumstances such as poor understanding of instructions or simply forgetting to take it.

“The South African government has made a number of efforts aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS in the country; in so doing, saving lives and improving the quality of life for South Africans living with HIV,” said Urison. “Amongst those efforts is reducing the pill burden of the first-line regimen to one pill a day, so as to improve adherence levels.”

“However, we need to evaluate the existing stumbling blocks so as to lead to an increase in adherence and improvement in treatment effectiveness; such improvements should include promoting open discussions about medicines and adherence practices and long term benefits.”

We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

What is usually the first sign of HIV?

After getting infected with HIV, most patients only experience moderate flu-like symptoms. Typically, the illness is sudden in onset and is characterised by fever, swelling of the lymph glands, a measles-like rash all over the body and ulcers in the mouth and sometimes on the genitalia.

What are the 4 stages of HIV?
  • Stage 1: Infection – Exposure to infected bodily fluids.
  • Stage 2: Asymptomatic – HIV quickly spreads and the patient becomes seropositive for HIV antibodies.
  • Stage 3: Symptomatic – The immune system is now engaged in a constant battle with the rapidly replicating virus.
  • Stage 4: AIDS – At this stage, the patient’s CD4+ count is 200 cells per mm3 or less.
How soon can HIV be detected by a blood test?

No test can detect HIV immediately after infection. The time between initial infection and a detectable viral load is called the window period. It can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks to after exposure detect whether you are HIV-positive or not, depending on which testing method is used.

How long does it take to show symptoms of HIV?

Following initial infection, there is a period of intense, unchecked viral replication that occurs. It usually takes two to four weeks after infection and can last about one to two weeks, after which there tends to be a slight recovery, and the infected individual is considered to be seropositive for HIV antibodies.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted from one person to another through the exchange of body fluids. The main method of transmission in South Africa is through unprotected sexual activity.

Does HIV test affect life insurance?

Being HIV-positive can affect standard life insurance policies, particularly if your status changes from HIV-negative to HIV-positive within a particular age range. That’s why AllLife covers all lives. Your HIV status doesn’t prevent you from getting cover with us.

Can HIV-positive women have children?

Yes, HIV-positive women can enjoy healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy HIV-negative babies. Through the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme has been highly effective in reducing transmission risk to under 1%.

Up to R10 million Life Cover for people living with HIV.

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What will I be covered for?

In a few simple steps, you could be covered for comprehensive Life Cover and HIV Disability Cover (optional). We believe in providing you with Life Insurance to suit your needs so we will find a solution for you.

You get more than a life policy, you get a team to help you stay healthy.

What happens after I‘m covered?

After you’re covered you can enjoy the benefit of our Health Control Programme where we remind and assist you when it comes to regular tests and checkups, ensuring that you live a healthy and happy life.

Remember, life cover gets more expensive as you get older, so your premium will never be lower than it is today.

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*Risk Profile Dependent, Premiums increase by 6% every year and can be reviewed given 30 days' notice.