Chronic illness can cause trauma in adults!


Trauma and stress have been linked to various chronic disorders, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders such as arthritis, lupus, chronic pain, and digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia.


When the body undergoes stress for a prolonged period, neurochemicals and hormones linked with stress are discharged in substantial amounts. Although these chemicals follow naturally and are a significant normal functioning process, their extended discharge can be toxic to the brain and body.



When I was first diagnosed with HIV I decided not to disclose my status. I was concerned about the fallout and rejection my disclosure would release and was unwilling to allow myself to be vulnerable. Had I known then what I know now, I would have done things differently.


My health rapidly deteriorated and as I had no physical, emotional or mental support (all of my own doing) I landed in the hospital and doctor’s room on many occasions. Dragging myself to get help without support from family and friends was exhausting and made me even more ill. Trauma and stress to my body became overwhelming. I ended up with TB Meningitis, Cancer, Strokes and more.




Keep in mind that your body is not the enemy. The sooner you accept that the faster your mental and physical trauma can be alleviated.



  1. Remember, it is not your fault that you have health issues.
  2. Do not destroy yourself by adding self-blame to your list of challenges.
  3. Make peace with this addition to your life.
  4. Do not drain yourself of energy agonising about how others interpret your medical condition.
  5. Keep positive people who support you, around.
  6. You will be let down by friends and family on occasion, accept that this will happen.
  7. Be brave enough to ask for help.

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 1 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million

if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more.


I did!

One of the first comments from newly diagnosed young women I hear is, ‘I will never be able to have children’. Years ago this was a concern as medical data and medication were limited. I was older when diagnosed and had already had the joy of having my children, which put me in a position to understand when someone voiced these concerns as to just how much they thought this was an impossible dream.


An HIV-positive person could potentially transfer HIV to their baby throughout pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Being HIV positive does not mean that you cannot have children. Treatment with a combination of HIV medicines called antiretroviral therapy or ART can prevent transference of HIV to your baby and safeguard your health.


During pregnancy, HIV can pass through the placenta and infect the foetus. During childbirth, the baby may be exposed to the virus from blood and other fluids. When a woman goes into labour, the amniotic sac breaks (when her water breaks) and therefore, the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby rises.


The good news is that there are many ways to lower the risk of passing HIV to your unborn baby to almost zero.


You, the woman in the relationship, may not be the one that is HIV positive and wondering how to conceive if your partner is the one living with HIV. There is a variety of ways to achieve your purpose.


When a person living with HIV has an undetectable viral load, there is no risk of HIV transmitting HIV during sex. Provided your HIV partner has an undetectable viral load (for at least six months after the first ‘durably undetectable’ test.) and neither of you has any sexually transmitted infection/disease (STI/STD), sex without a condom is acceptable.


If you or your partner have a detectable viral load it is essential to discuss conception options that reduce or remove the risk of transference during intercourse to you or your partner and baby. Before deciding not to use condoms, get advice from your HIV healthcare providers so that they can establish what would work best for you. One of the options may be to join up with your HIV-negative partner taking PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis). PrEP decreases HIV transmission and is safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


If both partners are HIV positive, both must have an undetectable viral load to prevent reinfection. Reinfection can lead to transmitted resistance whereby a drug-resistant variant can transfer to a partner. Should this happen, some HIV drugs may not work.


Currently, the drugs of choice for HIV in pregnancy are the antiretroviral drugs dolutegravir, and emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide fumarate, (DTG+FTC/TAF). These may compromise the safest and most effective HIV treatment regimen, which is currently available during pregnancy.


Overall, the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is 40% in the absence of any intervention. The timing of such transmission is as follows: in utero: 5%; during delivery: 15–20%; up to 24 months of breastfeeding: 20%.  


In 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa surveyed in 2019, the transmission rate varied between 2 and 25%. The countries with the best figures were Botswana, Eswatini, South Africa and Namibia (all below 5%). 


If you, your partner or both are HIV positive, ask your medical service provider for guidance on the most suitable procedure that will suit you and your partner’s situation. 


The next blog will provide information on breastfeeding vs formula feeding – you decide.

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 1 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more,

I did!

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Chronic illness is a disease or condition that typically lasts for three (3) months or longer and may worsen over time. Chronic diseases generally happen in older adults and can usually be managed but not cured. The most common chronic ailments are cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis.


Chronic diseases, by definition, cannot be cured—even with significant lifestyle changes, medication, and other treatments. However, chronic illnesses can be effectively managed symptoms can be reduced through holistic management.


Occasionally we are given an incorrect diagnosis or are misdiagnosed as chronic illnesses can be misunderstood by the medical community. We may not have a name for what is happening to our bodies. It is, however, a genuine predicament that needs managing. Correct diagnosis of a chronic condition can potentially take a lifetime to identify. Hang in there even if you feel unable to ‘get it together.’


Generally, there is no easy cure for a chronic condition, so please do not head out on your own and try things that you think will work. Keep in mind others will bombard you with well-meaning suggestions to ‘try this’ for your condition and advise that you can cure yourself with yoga or the latest diet. These interferences can be upsetting and come from an uninformed place, laying the blame for your agony squarely on your shoulders as if you have not already done everything in your control to improve your health. 


Having been diagnosed with numerous chronic illnesses such as cancer, strokes, TB meningitis, heart failure, and more health challenges has led to me enduring many medical interactions. Communications have been traumatic and led to lengthy procedures due to incorrect diagnosis and late detection. However, on the confirmation, the correct treatment and subsequent medication were dispensed, putting me in a position to live a meaningful and productive life.


Nobody is invincible. It can be frustrating to hear comments such as ‘just get up and get dressed’ or ‘you are too young to be sick’. Sometimes a chronically ill person is grateful to make it out of bed daily. Remember, you feel that pain; ignore the platitudes.


Not everyone will take your chronic condition seriously as it may not be visible. People may assume you are following a fad diet or feigning an intolerance to certain foods if you decline certain foods due to your autoimmune condition that can be managed but may still be considered chronic. Remember that any health condition lasting three months or longer will be regarded as a chronic disorder, even though your symptoms, referred to as a ‘flare-up’ may come and go.


Encourage people to ask you about your condition. It enlightens them and also helps you come to terms and normalise it in your head. Sometimes we need someone to listen.


There may be days when you can barely make it out of bed or experience immense pain. Attempt to smile through the pain and tell yourself you will be okay.


Medications you take may make you feel worse than the actual illness itself. The side effects may include nausea, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, and possibly most awful, irritability and mood swings. 


Should your physician recommend surgery, understand that it is not a miracle cure and will not automatically be the final solution as they will not always work for you, or they do, but you may still have pain.


Ultimately, what works for one may not work for another. Follow your doctor’s advice and stick to your medication.


Keeping your spirits up by allowing people to be supportive can add to your overall well-being and a positive mindset.


A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 1 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million

if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more.

I did!


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I have been living with HIV for over seventeen years and have overcome many and varied forms of chronic conditions associated with my HIV status. Between 2004 and 2008 I was afflicted with TB Meningitis, two strokes, shingles, pneumonia and Cancer (Angioimmunoblasticlymphadenopathy, a rare and aggressive form of cancer of the glands, associated with HIV) and later, in 2018 a massive heart attack resulting in a double bypass.


In spite of the above afflictions, my viral load has remained undetectable at under 40 copies per millilitre since 2009.


HIV is manageable! We have all heard that by now. 


BUT, did you know U=U means Undetectable = Untransmittable?


People living with undetectable levels of HIV cannot pass the virus on through any form of sexual activity.


Effectively, if a person follows their medication regimen and has an undetectable HIV viral load, they have no risk of passing the HIV virus on to anyone.


A person’s viral load is considered ‘durably undetectable’ when all viral load test results are undetectable for at least six months after their first undetectable test result. Most people will need to be on treatment for 7 to 12 months to have a durably undetectable viral load.


If you are undetectable, you will still test positive. This is to be expected and does not mean that your medication is not working. You are essentially not infectious.


Why will you still test positive for HIV even if you are undetectable?


Antibody tests do not detect HIV. Instead, they identify antibodies that the immune system produces in response to HIV infection.


Antibodies are still present in individuals living with HIV—even people who have suppressed their viral load. Meaning that people living with HIV will still test positive for HIV on an antibody HIV test even if their viral load is undetectable. The virus may be undetectable, but antibodies are still present and detectable.


What is an Antibody?

An antibody is a protein produced by the body’s immune system when it detects harmful substances called antigens.


What is an antigen?

Any substance that causes the body to make an immune response against that substance. Antigens include toxins, chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or other substances entering from outside the body. Body tissues and cells, including cancer cells, also have antigens that can cause an immune response.


In the early days of HIV, we used antibody and ELISA tests, and some countries still do. Newer tests are available and often combine an antibody test with an antigen or protein assay, which provides added sensitivity for early infection and, consequently, detection.


Antibodies allow our bodies to remember a specific infectious agent—like a particular strain of flu—and then respond swiftly if exposed to it again in the future. On developing antibodies to a virus or in reaction to a vaccine, we may host those antibodies for life.


You will remain undetectable as long as you continue to take your HIV treatments as prescribed!


A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.


You can get cover of up to 1 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million cover for your HIV status, SMS LIVING to 33857 to find out more, I did!


Read more on Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

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Being diagnosed with HIV in 2004 was a nightmare as there was so much ignorance and misinformation surrounding the HIV virus by both the medical and public organisations.


I was never offered pre or post counselling for my condition. Once diagnosed, I realised what a predicament others less fortunate to access online information and counselling services must be experiencing. Sadly, as no pre, or post counselling was on offer, it left me to gather information and find ways of dealing with my diagnosis myself. I put the lack of a counselling offer, unacceptable, I might add, down to the year 2004, when diagnosed, to ignorance and uncertainty by many medical professionals, on how to proceed during this early HIV period.


I signed up to a do a Lay Counsellor and Victim Empowerment course, educating myself in the process and collecting information and skills to support others in the same predicament.


Before testing for HIV it is essential to get pre-counselling and be well-informed of the reality and practicality of what a positive outcome holds. Post-counselling is equally important as it informs you on what other resources are available and introduces ways of making lifestyle behavioural changes. 


Once you are diagnosed HIV positive and have received post counselling which includes a review of your health and medical history, a physical exam, and several lab tests, you will be another step closer to facing the World.


Furthermore, your healthcare provider will explain the benefits of HIV treatment and discuss ways to reduce the risk of passing HIV to others. 


The next step will be to have your blood counts done so that your healthcare provider can help you start the medication to treat your HIV (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) as soon as possible. Treatment with HIV medication is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they have had HIV. 


Your blood count will be done next and include some of the following:


Viral Load

Viral load test measures the amount of HIV in the genetic material in a blood sample and indicates how much of the HIV virus is in your body. The test measures the number of HIV copies in a millilitre.


CD4 Count

The CD4 count is a test that measures how many CD4 cells you have in your blood. These are a type of white blood cell called T cells.



Untreated HIV infection can lead to loss of lean body mass and result in reduced serum creatinine pool and the serum creatinine level, affecting your kidneys. 


See for other blood test information.


If your HIV is left untreated, it can cause substantial weight loss, often accompanied by diarrhoea, prolonged weakness and fever. HIV can also cause neurological complications with symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, depression, anxiety and difficulty walking. I know this as I, due to lack of medical advice on starting my medication, experienced blackouts, hallucinations, and loss of memory, amongst other acquired health challenges (I was unable to recall my four-digit pin, Doctor’s name, cell no. and more).


When coming to terms with your HIV positive status, you may find yourself shifting from your ‘normal’ mindset to cope and implement new strategies to take control. Know that there are actions you can implement to cope with your diagnosis.


  1. Talk to a counsellor or trusted friend and try to have open, honest conversations about HIV, feelings and goals.
  2. Educate yourself as much as you can with up-to-date information about the dis-ease.
  3. Being diagnosed with HIV is life-changing news. Listen and learn from people that are living openly with their HIV status.
  4. Get moving and exercise for an hour at least 3 to 4 times a week, even if it is just walking!
  5. Review your eating/diet habits and adjust accordingly. There is little or no need to change if you currently practise a healthy eating lifestyle.
  6. Get enough sleep.
  7. Adhere strictly to your medical treatment.


A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage your health makes the difference.


You can get cover of up to 1 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million cover for your HIV status, SMS LIVING to 33857 to find out more, I did!

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Get Chronic Life Cover!

On 6 April, 2022, in Uncategorized, by Cindy Pivacic

Have you been unable to get Chronic Life Cover? Then this product is for you and has been specially designed for people who have been previously declined life cover because of their chronic health conditions.

When it comes to your health and life, AllLife has brought you another 1st!

There is no underwriting, making it really easy for a person to take out this cover. This product can also be offered to people who are unwilling to go for underwriting.


CHRONIC L I F E C O V E R – Chronic Life Cover – Whole Life Cover


  • Chronic Life has an initial 3 YEAR* (36 months waiting period) for natural death, during this period the Life Insured will have Accidental Death Cover.

  • After the 3-year waiting period, the Life Insured will have FULL Life Cover.

  • Cover starts from the moment your first premium is paid.

  • There is no underwriting process • Cover starts from R 100,000 up to a maximum of R 1 000,000.

  • Cover can be taken in R 100,000 increments i.e., R100k, R200k, R300k etc.

  • Qualifying ages 18 – 65.

Do you have questions?

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Should the Life Insured pass away of natural causes during the waiting period a FULL PREMIUM REFUND will be done.

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SA: HIV Women Sterilised

On 2 March, 2020, in Health and Wellness, HIV & AIDS, by Cindy Pivacic

Disgusting! Agreeing with ‘forced’ sterilisation is not an option.

How dare anyone try to coerce or ‘forcibly’ sterilise someone else because they are HIV positive!

Sadly, this is not a ‘new thing’ as I recall back in my KZN days, some ten plus years back, was a huge issue with people being half comatose, and in many cases right after giving birth, coerced and ‘advised’ to get themselves sterilised.

Many of these sterilisations were done without consent. Just because South Africa has the biggest epidemic in the World does not give anyone else the right to decide for you.

People have been treated with very little or no empathy or humanity and have been told that they are annoying the medical staff by having babies, knowing that they are HIV positive.

Women have been told that if they do not have the procedure, they will not be assisted when giving birth.

It is an infringement of basic rights to be pressured and discriminated against because of their HIV status, and even more so, whilst in labour and nervous enough to agree to such barbaric treatment.

Follow these links to read what is currently happening with regards to ‘forced’ and coerced’ sterilisation in South Africa!

HIV: Balance & Bounce (6)

On 26 February, 2020, in HIV: Balance & Bounce, by Cindy Pivacic

There are many facets to wellness around HIV and AIDS. Here I speak with Toni Zimmermann, a long-term HIV survivor of 29 years, living an energetic and productive life.


HIV: Balance & Bounce (5)

On 26 February, 2020, in HIV: Balance & Bounce, by Cindy Pivacic

There are many facets to wellness around HIV and AIDS. Here I speak with Patronia Luzipo from Yabonga whose vision is to provide a sustainable model of holistic care and support to families and communities affected by HIV, enabling them to live independent, productive, healthy lives.