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.

UNDETECTABLE VL

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.

BOTH HIV POSITIVE

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.

MOTHER-TO-CHILD TRANSMISSION

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%. https://sahivsoc.org/Guidelines/Module19  

 

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!

 

Sponsored Post

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.

 

Creatinine

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 https://www.aidsmap.com/about-hiv/other-blood-tests 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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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!

http://bit.ly/dozensHIVwomensterilised

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.

http://bit.ly/SAhospitalssteriliseHIVwomen1

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.

 (6)

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.

HIV: Balance & Bounce (4)

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 Dr. Emille Reid who is a specialist physician with an interest in Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine. He also practices general medical-, ICU-, and Cardiac Care Medicine on an in-hospital basis.

Celebrate the Past & Present of HIV and AIDS

On 5 November, 2019, in HIV & AIDS, World AIDS Day, by Cindy Pivacic

Are you aware the 1st of Dec is…… less than 30 days away?

Embargoed until: 29 July 2019

http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0302/P03022019.pdf 

Current population South Africa                                                        58 775 022

The estimated overall HIV prevalence rate is approximately           13,5%

The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at              7,97 million

HIV positive adults aged 15–49 years, an estimated                         19,07%

Book me to speak at your World AIDS Day Event

http://cindypivacic.co.za/contact/