WINDHOEK, JUNE 18 – HIV doesn’t pose great danger to human lives as it was before, however, its prevalence continues to hang on the necks of the people globally, especially, in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Approximately 36.9 million people worldwide lived with HIV/AIDS In 2017; and Around 25 per cent of these people did not know that they had the virus.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region hit hardest with More than two-thirds of its people in living with HIV i.e., about 25 million individuals living with HIV – 1 in every 36 people. The number of AIDS-related deaths in Africa contributed to a substantial share of the world’s total: 70 per cent of global deaths in 2012.
Tuberculosis remains the common cause of death among people living with HIV. In 2016, 10.4 million people developed TB; and 1.2 million of these were living with HIV.
Although HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death for adults, a significant number of people are receiving life-saving treatments. In sub-Saharan Africa for instance, almost 90 per cent of people who tested positive for HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is very impressive.
Research also shows that, 76 per cent of people on ART have achieved viral suppression and that for every 10 per cent increase in treatment coverage there is a 1 per cent decline in the percentage of new infections among people living with HIV.
For us to see more of these results, it is paramount that people living with HIV adhere to their treatment plans. It is very important for people to understand that ARVs are only effective when taken correctly. otherwise, patients build up drug resistance the drugs become ineffective.
Adhering to The ARV treatment can be a struggle sometimes since they are taken orally in the form of a combination of tablets every day.
But, it so far the best solution to reduce the risk of HIV transmission and managing the virus effectively to achieve viral suppression, where HIV-positive people are unlikely to transmit the virus as their viral load becomes undetectable and also to help them live long healthy, productive, normal lives.
One way to go about this problem is the use of a medication reminder application for smartphones. In recent years, there has been a thrive in the use of smartphones and internet in Africa, 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 working well; people are preventing HIV through pre or post-prophylaxis.
In 2017, 80 per cent of all pregnant women living with HIV had access to treatment to prevent HIV transmission to their babies.
Despite the progress witnessed over the years, progress in combating viral transmission is still not happening fast enough to meet global targets. There’s the need to implement strategies to improve knowledge of HIV, provide more testing among young adults, counselling and prevention programs, antiretroviral treatments, remove barriers of stigma and HIV prevention, amongst others.
Therefore, the underlying message is that, as long as ARV medications are taken properly and responsibly, with the help continuous research, then the world at large and Africa will continue to see a reduction in the virus’ incidence, prevalence and death rates, with the hope of working towards an HIV-free future for the world. – NDN Staffer