Selfmed: Lifelong support for people living with HIV/Aids

Statistics show that South Africa has the sixth-highest HIV infection rate in the world. Approximately 18.8% – close to one fifth – of the population tested positively at the end of 2005. This translates to 5.5 million people. According to the UNAIDS 2006 Global Report, an estimated 320 000 people suffered AIDS related deaths in 2005.

Don’t become a statistic! Get tested and take advantage of Selfmed’s Aid for Aids HIV disease management programme today.

Contrary to popular belief, every HIV positive person has the right to belong to a medical aid scheme – discrimination against people on grounds of their HIV status is illegal. Read on to learn more about Selfmed’s commitment to improving the lives of members living with HIV/Aids.

Providing support for HIV positive medical aid members
Selfmed offers comprehensive HIV/Aids cover on all our medical aid options. In addition, we’ve also contracted Optipharm, specialists in HIV/Aids management, to support our members.

Our unique offering facilitates intensive and well-managed HIV/Aids support, as well as professional counselling and advice on nutrition, healthcare and other aspects of managing HIV/Aids.

Benefits of programme enrolment
Upon joining, each HIV positive member is assigned their own dedicated case manager – a medically trained professional with the necessary experience to assist, guide and advise members on positive living. By answering all the member’s questions, informing them about the realities of the disease, and giving them the tools they need to live a quality life, our case managers help members cope with the disease, both mentally and physically.

Selfmed and all our staff are committed to a policy of strict confidentiality. No information concerning a person’s HIV status will, under any circumstances, be revealed without that person’s consent. Furthermore, people have the option of remaining anonymous – we do not require any personal information for enrolment in the programme!

Selfmed urges people living with the disease to join Optipharm’s disease management programme as early as possible – or as soon as they have been diagnosed. This is crucial for reasons ranging from the person’s physical and emotional well-being to curbing the risk of spreading the disease.

It is a harsh fact that most infected people are completely unaware of their HIV status. This is extremely dangerous on two counts: Firstly, the person is not reaping the benefits of medicine and nutritional information that could prolong and improve their lives drastically. Secondly, the person could be spreading the disease without even knowing it! Get tested today: for your own sake, and to protect those around you.
How does HIV testing work?
Bear in mind that people can look and feel perfectly fine for years before discovering that they are, in fact, HIV positive – at the risks mentioned above! An HIV blood test – conducted by a general practitioner or a qualified clinic nurse – is the only way to know.

Normally, HIV antibodies can be detected in the blood between 4 to 6 weeks after infection. The time between infection and detection is known as the “window period.” Be aware of the fact, however, that this period could extend to between 3 and 12 months. By definition, an HIV test has two possible outcomes:

  • If the test reveals a positive HIV antibody count, it means that the person is infected with HIV – for life – and also carries the risk of infecting others. However, it does not mean that the person has AIDS, nor can it reveal when full-blown AIDS will develop.
  • If, in contrast, the test reveals a negative HIV antibody count, it effectively means one of two things: The tested person is either not infected with HIV, or the window period is causing an inaccurate test result. We recommend – in the interest of accuracy and peace of mind – that people with negative results return for a second test after the appropriate amount of time has passed.

What are the advantages of taking an HIV test?
In both the two case scenarios described above, knowing is infinitely better than not knowing.

Upon discovering a negative result, most people would be filled with a huge sense of relief. Chances are the person would improve their lifestyle and be more cautious in future, so as to avoid repetition of the traumatic anticipation they went through while awaiting their HIV test results.

If the test comes out positive, on the other hand, it is definitely better to know. The sooner a person is aware of their positive HIV status, the sooner they can take steps to address it. Thanks to the medical, nutritional and emotional support offered by Selfmed’s trained professionals, HIV infection does not have to mean the end of hope and life. Selfmed helps people living with HIV to delay the onset of illness, and hence, to enjoy a healthy and quality life for as long as possible.