Traditional leaders turn treatment supporters

Traditional leaders turn treatment supportersPatients with an undectable viral load are less likely to pass the infection onto others.

Communities surrounding Port St. Johns recently gathered at the house of a local headman to celebrate patients preserving with chronic illness.

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Patients with an undectable viral load are less likely to pass the infection onto others.
Patients with an undectable viral load are less likely to pass the infection onto others.

Whether living with diabetes or HIV, patients young and old gathered in Bizana, about 150 kms north of Port St Johns to celebrate treatment adherence. With local government officials looking on, local patients talked about their road to treatment adherence.

Nolizwi Rweba, 87, told OurHealth thought that her high blood pressure diagnosis in 2009 meant the end was near. Now, she says takes treatment daily to make sure her condition stay in check.

Mthuthuzeli Nyange’s diabetes diagnosis may have been unexpected but it has not slowed him down.

“I am still strong,” said the 72-year-old man who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2013. “I still herd my cattle and plough my fields – this shows that I am taking my treatment.”

Diagnosed with HIV more than a decade ago while still a child, Zomzi Dinga says she is celebrating more than a decade of living positively.

“I was diagnosed HIV positive in 2005 and then it was still hard to be on antiretrovirals,” said Dinga, who was diagnosed at a nearby Lusikisiki clinic when it was operated by the international humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières.

“From then till now, I never stopped taking my pills,” said Dinga, who added that adhering to daily HIV treatment means that her HIV viral load is undetectable. ” I do not get any opportunistic infections or anything. I will not stop taking my treatment”.

Viral load testing measures the amount of HIV in a person’s blood and is the best way for health workers to see if patients are responding to ARV treatment or if they have developed resistance to drugs. The less HIV in a person’s blood, the less likely they are to pass the virus onto others. When the level of HIV in a person’s blood is very low, health workers say it is “undetectable.”

Department of Health Operations Manager Nokuzola Mpeseka expressed her pride in patients’ achievements.

“We are proud of the communities that we serve in our catchment areas because they are people (who) work with us,” she said. “They know that taking your treatment as ordered gives you a long life”. – Health-e News.