Living with any chronic disease is not easy, and HIV is no different. Thanks to fantastic improvements in treatment, an HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence: with ARV treatment it is possible for a person living with HIV to have a long and healthy life. In the past, ARV treatment was only given to people with a CD4 count of 350. New research shows that the earlier a person starts treatment the better their health will be, and The Department of Health offers ARV treatment as soon as a person tests positive, and encourages everyone living with HIV to initiate ARVs as soon as possible.
ARVs work by stopping HIV from hijacking the body's CD4 cells - the soldier cells that protect us from infection.
This is why when ARVs are taken properly, a person’s viral load goes down and CD4 count goes up, which means there is less HIV in their blood and their immune system remains strong. The goal is to be virally suppressed, which means that there is a very low risk of infecting other people or getting sick from TB and other diseases.
For more information about viral suppression, watch this:
Former Roses United midfielder, Thabang Sefatsa is one of the few soccer players to open up about his HIV positive status. He speaks out about HIV to encourage others to test, treat and adhere to their treatment. He knows it isn’t always easy, but with the help of friends, family and his doctor, he is doing OK.
“When I was diagnosed it was really difficult to accept the results but Dr Kgaile, who was my team doctor, was warm and understanding.
“He counselled me nicely and then told me, “Thabang, go home and tell your family about this. You have to accept the situation and look after yourself. I went home and told the family. It wasn’t easy at all, but they all understood and encouraged me to go to the clinic, which I did. I also received a lot of support from my former teammate, Lerato Mofokeng, who I respect so much to this day. That guy supported me, man, and still does today. He kept encouraging me not to give up but to remain strong and focus on taking my treatment. He always made sure to visit me all the time to keep me company so that I don’t think about bad things or worry too much about my situation.”
“I’d like to encourage everyone, especially the youth, to go to the nearest clinic to get tested. Knowing your status is the first and most important step because it is the base on which you live your life. And if you are positive, start treatment, and stick to it.
Thabang makes sure that he takes his medication daily at the same time.
“I never miss the scheduled time to take my medication because I know how important it is for me to stick to my treatment.”
So please, know your status and start treatment as soon as possible.
Be the hero of your health.Test today, treat today, live tomorrow. Brothers for Life. Yenzakahle. CLICK HERE for more info