ARVs are important

2018-03-14 06:00
THE KZN HealthDepartment says it is important to take your medicationevery day. PHOTO: sourced

THE KZN HealthDepartment says it is important to take your medicationevery day. PHOTO: sourced

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AS much as people are now well-informed about the dangers of HIV/Aids, some are still afraid to test while others default on their medication, which increases the danger of HIV developing into full-blown Aids.

A resident who wished to remain anonymous is lucky to be alive after he defaulted on his antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

He said: “I found out that I had HIV in 2012. I really did not expect the results to come back as HIV-positive. I felt like breaking down and felt like my world was coming to an end. I remember when the nurse tried to give me counselling, I couldn’t hear a thing she said. I kept on having these thoughts in my head that I was going to die soon.

“I left the clinic still puzzled about what I had just heard. When I got home I couldn’t think, eat or sleep. So I decided to take another HIV test because I thought the nurse made a mistake but the result still came back as positive.

I was in serious denial. I told myself there is no such thing, I don’t have the HIV virus in my blood. However, I started to get sick so I had to start on ARVs.”

He said that although the treatment had side effects, he eventually got used to it and was feeling better day by day.

“After months of taking my medication I was back to being myself and started feeling good and stronger. I was fit and healthy; therefore I decided to stop taking my medication because I felt I no longer needed it.”

He said months later he got sick again but this time it was worse, to the point where he couldn’t walk.

“I sometimes cry when I think how sick I was. My mother took me to the clinic and I was transferred to a local hospital for admission. The doctor’s findings were that I had developed TB and they tested me again and found out that I’m HIV-positive. I confessed that I had stopped my treatment. The nurses told me that the reason why I was sick was because I had defaulted on my treatment. I thank God that I am still alive today and I now don’t go a day without taking my ARVs.”

KZN Health Department spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane stressed how important it is to take ARVs for those who are infected with HIV.

He said: “Treatment adherence is a phrase that means taking your HIV drugs at the correct time as prescribed. Treatment adherence is extremely important because it affects how well your HIV medications decrease your viral load.

“If you skip a dose of your medication, even once, the virus can take that opportunity to replicate and make more HIV. When you skip doses, you may develop strains of HIV that are resistant to the medications you are currently taking, and possibly even to medications you haven’t taken yet. If this happens, it could leave you with fewer treatment options.”

Once you start treatment, you need to live a healthy life. This means:

• following healthy eating habits;

• reducing alcohol and drug intake;

• using a condom regularly and consistently;

• exercising regularly; and

• sticking to one sex partner.

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