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HIV treatment reduces rate of transmitting

12 May, 2019 - 00:05 0 Views
HIV treatment reduces rate of transmitting

The Sunday News

Sophia Nuamah

Even though HIV doesn’t pose a great threat to human lives anymore as it did some years back, its prevalence continues to hang on the necks of the population at large especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

More than two-thirds of all people in Sub-Saharan Africa live with HIV, that is one in every 36 people.

According to the UNAids report, In Zimbabwe 1,3 million people live with HIV. However, Aids-related deaths, have dropped from 61 000 in 2013 to 22 000 in 2017; with 41 000 new infections. 

Although HIV/Aids remains the leading cause of death for adults, more people are receiving life-saving treatment. An impressive number of 84 percent adults and 89 percent of children living with HIV in Zimbabwe are on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

The ARV treatment is taken orally in the form of a combination of tablets, and it is so far the best solution to reduce the risk of HIV transmission and managing the virus effectively to achieve viral suppression, where infected people are unlikely to transmit the virus as the viral load becomes undetectable.

New data analysis demonstrates that for every 10 percent increase in treatment coverage there is a one percent decline in the percentage of new infections among people living with HIV.

For this to be possible, it is paramount that people living with the HIV virus adhere to their treatment plans. It is therefore important for people to understand and know that ARVs are only effective when taken correctly. If not, the drugs become useless and patients stand the risk of building up drug resistance.

Achieving the target of 90 percent viral suppression for all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will only be possible if people living with HIV adhere to their ARV medications.

Several reasons could account for why people living with HIV stop taking their medications or are inconsistent; like the stigma associated with HIV, side-effects of the medication, or simply getting tired or forgetting to take so many medications every single day. 

However, there are solutions to these non-adherence problems — a probable solution could be the use of a medication reminder application for smartphones. In recent years, there has been a thrive in the use of smartphones in Africa, and with increasing access to the internet, it is becoming easier for the population to access all the features that come with a smartphone.

MyTherapy  is a medication and health tracker app that can be used by people living with HIV. The app, which is downloadable for free on both iOS  and Android, is a useful and practical tool that encourages and helps its users to take their medication responsibly. 

The main purpose of the app is to promote adherence by consistently reminding users to take their medication until they have done so, nevertheless, it also comes with a variety of useful features, such as a measurement and symptom tracker, where users can monitor how they are feeling and responding to their treatment. Additionally, the app also has a lab-values feature which can help HIV-positive patients track their viral load and CD4 count which they can later download in the Health Report feature and discuss with their doctors.

HIV/Aids has claimed so many lives in the past decades and now, there have been quite some remarkable breakthroughs — the rate of infections and deaths have fallen drastically, which implies that ARV medications are working well; people are preventing HIV through pre or post-prophylaxis.

Also with the impressive new happenings where pregnant women with the HIV virus are able to give birth to HIV-free babies thanks to the ARV therapy.

Accordingly, the underlying message is that as long as ARV medications are taken properly and responsibly, with the help continuous incredible research, then Africa and the world at large will continue to see a reduction in the virus’ incidence, prevalence and death rates — indeed there’s hope for an HIV-free future! —

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