Posted on: May 26, 2010 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

Commenting on government’s ambitious R1.4-billion campaign to prevent, test and treat HIV/AIDS, medical aid schemes advised their members to test their status.

Katy Caldis, CEO of Fedhealth, commented; “Testing is a critical entry point for HIV/AIDS prevention and interventions. Testing is no longer viewed a diagnosis strategy, but based on the member’s need to know their HIV status to change their behaviour.”

HIV positive people, after testing, are believe to take better care of their health and to slow down progress of the disease by taking precautions to reduce the risk of transmission.

HIV negative people, after testing, are believe to reduce anxiety, become aware of their vulnerability to re-infection and further infections, and stop infecting others.

Health risk management

Managing HIV and AIDS equates to managing a chronic condition, requiring a health risk management approach to balance cost (price and use of healthcare services) with quality of care (best healthcare results), and access to healthcare services,” explained Caldis.

The managed health care approach, reliant on early diagnosis, was erroneously perceived as a way of containing costs to insurers.

“When chronic conditions are identified at an early stage and the necessary treatment and lifestyle interventions are implemented, quality of life of many sufferers can be improved and maintained. HIV is no exception… treatment now available allows the majority of people living with the virus to lead healthy and productive lives for many years.”

Several medical aid schemes have managed healthcare programmes for people living with HIV, on a par with cardiac disease, diabetes, asthma and other chronic diseases.

Aid for AIDS programme

Fedhealth disclosed that it had 2313 beneficiaries registered on an Aid for AIDS (AfA) programme, of whom 81% were on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Some 60% of beneficiaries joined AfA at a late stage of the disease, after the optimal time to commence therapy. Caldis cites “incredible results” from early diagnosis and treatment.

A crucial factor in fighting HIV/AIDS is to start medication and other treatment at the right time. Medicines are available to attack the virus, while vitamins, good nutrition and exercise can play a critical role in keeping the body strong and healthy.

Starting treatment at the right time ensures the effectiveness of the medicines, improves quality of life, and decreases the risk of serious infections or other complications.

HIV medication includes drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Most managed programmes include medication to prevent opportunistic infections, regular monitoring of the disease’s progression, response to therapy, ongoing patient support through a nursing line, clinical guidelines, and telephonic support for doctors.

Managed health care for HIV infection should start before medication is needed, said Caldis, with support and guidance, preparing patients mentally and emotionally for later treatment.

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