How ART treatment is saving lives

According to AllLife’s medical experts, whilst HIV/AIDS remains a global health issue, South Africa has been experiencing an impressive reduction in mortality since the introduction of more generally available Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) treatment. As a result, the concept of treating HIV infection as a chronic manageable disease has come closer to reality.

“The introduction of ART to people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa has significantly modified the course of the disease into a chronic manageable one, with longer survival and improved quality of life,” said Dr Avron Urison, Medical Director at AllLife.

He pointed out that research was done by the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA) highlighted the dramatic changes in mortality. A study was done in 2005 estimating 1 063 HIV/AIDS-related deaths per day (equivalent to ~388  000 per annum), with a more recent study, decreasing this estimate to 532 per day (equivalent to 194  000 per annum). This means that even assuming HIV prevalence was constant, there has been a reduction in mortality of in excess of 60%.

Urison held that the increased longevity of people living with HIV is owed not only to the large ART treatment coverage in South Africa but also in the range of management programs that help people remain adherent to proper therapy and empower people, through the provision of key health information, to take care of themselves.

In this light, AllLife, providers of comprehensive life cover to people living with HIV, links its insurance products to their own, free, in-house, adherence management program which ensures that their clients are able to manage their health appropriately and empowers them to take action to maintain their own wellbeing – this would include information related to when to complete blood tests and how and when to take anti-retroviral medications.

However, he added, that pre-test (not just post-test) counselling also plays a significant role in the process.

“The purpose of pre-test counselling is to provide one with information on the strict phases of testing and the possible medical, social and psychological implications should one be diagnosed as HIV positive,” Morrison pointed out. “Basically, this paves way for people living with HIV/AIDS to acquire all the information necessary to benefit from increased access to antiretroviral treatment provided.”

He said that people living with HIV/AIDS need to acquire more information from their insurers, doctors and community health centres on the medication they take, as well as on the disease in general.

“That way, the fear that people living with HIV/AIDS have of their health deteriorating after commencing treatment, will cease,” Urison said.