- Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 April 2015 22:54
The impact of HIV and Aids on the health of the South African population must never be underestimated. By participating in HIV counselling and testing (HCT), you’ve the opportunity to make well-informed decisions about the rest of your life, whether you test positive or negative.
Before being tested, you will receive pre-counselling to help you understand what the test is all about and to help you deal with the result, whatever it may be. If the test shows that you’re HIV-positive, the counsellor will help you to understand the result and make decisions about your future. If the test is negative, you’ll receive advice on how to stay HIV-negative. The “window period” will also be explained to you and you’ll be told whether or not to have a second test within a couple of weeks.
If the test is positive
If you discover that you are infected with HIV, you can:
- Learn more about the virus and how it affects your body
- Join the HIV and Aids disease management programme of your medical aid scheme
- Look after your health so that you stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible
- Learn to recognise the signs of opportunistic infections so you can get them treated promptly
- Find out what resources are available within your community to help you manage your HIV status
- Find out about prophylactic medication. The medicines do not cure HIV and Aids, but they can prevent you from getting some opportunistic infections, such as tuberculosis and some kinds of pneumonia, that are common with people living with the condition
- Access Nevirapene medication, which is available at a number of hospitals and clinics and lessens the chance of a pregnant mother passing the virus to her baby
- Get emotional support by seeking counselling and joining support groups
- Make sure that you don’t infect anyone else or get re-infected yourself
- Learn how to manage the stress in your life.
- Be assured of confidentiality.
In short, getting tested means getting information and counselling on how to live positively with the virus. This includes learning to accept that you are HIV-infected, seeking emotional support, eating a healthy diet, looking after your body, learning how to control the amount of stress in your life, making sure you don’t become re-infected and planning for the future. Long life is a guarantee for those who test early, get treated early and prevent TB, which attacks those with unknown and untreated HIV infection.
Counselling will also help families and friends to accept and support those who have HIV or Aids.
Where to go for HCT
Your employee wellness programme (EWP) may conduct anonymous testing from time to time. Alternatively, HCT is available at any public health facility. To find out more, send a “please call me” to 083 323 1023.
Revised by M Collins