You have just received a positive HIV result and you are wondering what next? Can you live a happy life? What about your hopes and dreams? Or maybe you are already living with HIV and are eager to improve and maintain your well-being. Do you have the option to access support that will prolong and afford you a healthier life?
The answer is yes. Living with HIV no longer spells the end. Nor does it mean exclusion from receiving the quality and consistent care that medical aid provides. Having medical aid puts you in the hands of capable professionals with expertise in HIV/AIDS at an affordable cost. With sufficient medical aid you can take the financial worry out of living with a chronic disease and focus on your fulfilment and good health.
As HIV positive what medical coverage will you get?
The Medical Aid Schemes Act compels South African medical aid companies to include HIV benefits as a minimum for all schemes. Whether a pre-existing condition or diagnosed when you already have a plan, you are entitled to HIV treatment irrespective of which plan you are signed to. These benefits are known as prescribed minimum benefits (PMB).
PMBs include provisions for diagnostic measures including testing for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections. They also cover antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and preventative medication for opportunistic infections and exposure to HIV via trauma, sexual assault or occupational injury. If you are diagnosed with HIV when you are pregnant, or planning a family, PMBs cover the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
HIV is listed as a critical condition in the Medical Aid Schemes Act. As result, you can rest easy knowing that you are covered in the event that your chronic benefits deplete. While it is illegal to deny access to medical aid to anyone living with HIV, restrictions may apply to new members with a pre-existing condition. It is important to declare your status when you apply for medical aid and prepare to wait up to 12 months before you receive comprehensive treatment.
Diligent monitoring and constant care are very important given that people living with HIV have impaired immune systems. Wider benefits that cover a range of needs beyond diagnosis and ARV treatment are key to increasing life expectancy and quality of life.
Comprehensive care for people living with HIV
The need for a holistic approach to taking care of yourself and your health is important. Society still attaches a stigma to HIV and in cases where a strong support system is absent having someone to discuss problems with and turn to in times of ill-health can help keep you on track with your treatment. Medical aid not only provides peace of mind in treating physical ailments, the additional support harnesses the compassion of caring staff to monitor emotional and mental health. Positive support along with adherence can go a long way in helping you manage HIV effectively.
Most medical aid companies offer supplementary wellness and management programmes in addition to prescribed minimum benefits. Based on the individualised attention given to each member, HIV management programmes have been shown to increase adherence rates by up to 98%. Often advised for members living with HIV, the programmes provide access to specialised care along with moral support. Other benefits include :
- Personalised and confidential telephonic assistance from dedicated case managers, such as nurses, with expertise in HIV care and management
- Regular reminders for blood tests, doctor’s visits and consultations with specialists
- Assistance with monitoring health including early detection of opportunistic infections and monitoring CD4 counts
- Provisions for palliative care in hospices in the event that you cannot be cared for at home
- Access to a network of doctors, social workers, counsellors and other professionals who are experts in HIV/AIDS diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of related diseases
- Unlimited cover for hospitalisation
- Nutritional cover for babies born to mothers with HIV which includes infant formula
- Education on nutrition, lifestyle management, HIV related diseases and general health
Whichever company you choose, it is imperative to adhere to your treatment. Taking your medication, eating healthy and exercising all contribute to maintaining a strong immune system which in turn leads to better health.
Cost of medical aid
The cost of comprehensive medical aid is higher than standard medical aid however, susceptibility to infection puts you at greater risk of illness. It is important to consider this when assessing your options for medical aid. Be sure to make comparisons to find the best cover that suits your budget in accordance with the benefits your monthly contribution provides.