A GIRL lights earthen lamps during an HIV/Aids awareness campaign on the occasion of World Aids Day in Kolkata, India, on Wednesday. | Rupak De Chowdhuri Reuters
A GIRL lights earthen lamps during an HIV/Aids awareness campaign on the occasion of World Aids Day in Kolkata, India, on Wednesday. | Rupak De Chowdhuri Reuters

WATCH: Holistic hospice palliative care plays vital role in fighting HIV/Aids

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Dec 2, 2021

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Cape Town - Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa advocacy manager Leigh Meinert recently shared why it was important to keep talking about HIV/Aids and raising awareness for the disease not only on World Aids Day but every other day as well.

Recognising World Aids Day on Wednesday, Meinert said the current prevalence of people living with HIV/Aids in South Africa was about 8.2 million. Just 10 years ago in 2011, there were only 5.38 million living with the disease, showing an increase of 10.6%.

She said this was why people needed to keep raising awareness and talking about this lived reality because even today, so far into the fight against this disease, people were still living with stigma and fears.

Some people were afraid to take their medications home for fear of their families finding out, and some people did not even have nourishing foods for their bodies, which was critical when taking medicines.

“I’m proud to say the hospices have been at the forefront of these conversations and campaigns since the very beginning, long before treatment was being made available,” said the advocacy manager.

Meinert also spoke about the role of hospices in the fight against this disease and the care of people living with the disease that still need a lot of support.

“We provide home-based care and services of social workers, home-based carers, spiritual carers, nurses and doctors. We wrap holistic support around patients living with life-threatening diseases and their families.”

She said it was encouraging that at hospices like Tapologo Hospice, the death rate of people living with HIV/Aids dropped from 36% in 2004 to 2% in 2019 and only 1% in 2021 – this showed that there was a move from HIV/Aids being a death sentence to life-threatening illness by taking ARVs.

“As we are all aware, HIV/Aids is a complex disease and carries the psychological challenge of a lifetime, so it's essential that people have this well-rounded support system to be able to engage mentally, emotionally and physically with the disease,” said Meinert.

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Cape Argus

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