Back 01 Dec, 2021 - COVID-19 | Health awareness


By Medihelp


HIV/Aids: 40 years later and the influence of a new pandemic

HIV/Aids: 40 years later and the influence of a new pandemic

Recent data published by UNAIDS show that the number of people receiving treatment for HIV/Aids has more than tripled since 2010,
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The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed other existing and highly relevant public health issues such as the ongoing HIV/Aids epidemic.

2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of Aids. Yet, despite the progress made in terms of awareness, prevention, prophylaxis and treatment, four decades later the HIV/Aids pandemic remains one of the world’s biggest health challenges.

HIV/Aids statistics

Recent data published by UNAIDS show that the number of people receiving treatment for HIV/Aids has more than tripled since 2010, whilst the number of deaths has decreased, partly due to the roll-out of antiretroviral therapy. More than 690 000 Aids-related deaths were reported in 2020, a decrease of 43% since 2010.

In 2020, 27,4 million of the 37,6 million people living with HIV worldwide were receiving treatment, significantly more than the mere 7,8 million people in 2010. The roll-out of affordable, quality treatment is estimated to have averted 16,2 million deaths since 2001, according to UNAIDS.

New HIV infections have seen a 30% decrease since 2010, with 1,5 million people newly infected with the virus in 2020 compared to 2,1 million people in 2010.

An estimated 79,3 million people have become infected with HIV and an estimated 36,3 million people have died from Aids-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.

COVID-19 and HIV/Aids

People living with HIV/Aids are more likely to become severely ill with COVID-19, and studies conducted in England and South Africa have found that people living with HIV are at twice the risk of succumbing to COVID-19 than those who are not infected.

According to UNAIDS, widening inequalities are preventing people living with HIV/Aids from accessing both COVID-19 vaccines and HIV services and treatment.

The UNAIDS report also states that COVID-19 lockdowns and other restrictions have severely disrupted HIV-testing in many countries, which has caused significant drops in HIV diagnoses, referrals to care services and HIV treatment initiations.

“Women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be at a higher risk of HIV infection, with gender inequality and gender-based violence at the centre of that risk,” states the report.

Getting tested

Medihelp offers benefits for voluntary HIV/Aids counselling and testing as part of added insured benefits. A rapid test is conducted and results are discussed, and should the test be positive, counselling will be provided by a medical professional.

Medihelp members who have accidentally been exposed to HIV should phone LifeSense on 086 050 6080 to start post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) immediately. This must commence within 72 hours of exposure.

HIV/Aids programme

Medihelp members who are HIV positive must register for the HIV/Aids programme that is offered in partnership with the Scheme’s designated service provider, LifeSense.

The HIV/Aids programme covers post-exposure prophylaxis (after accidental exposure), HIV screening tests and antiretroviral therapy. Trained healthcare consultants from LifeSense will assist members with enrolment. Members may use a doctor of their choice, who will complete an application form on their behalf to enable LifeSense to provide members with a drug treatment plan and continuous counselling by professional case managers.

Members can be assured of the strictest confidentiality, delivery of medicine to the address of their choice, and personal service by a dedicated case manager who will counsel and advise them on important matters, such as the correct use of prescribed medicine regimens and lifestyle changes to maintain optimal health.


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