Quality pharmacists form an integral part of the collaborative network of healthcare professionals in South Africa. Many citizens do not have access to medical care, healthcare advice, and/or guidance on how to assess their wellbeing. For such families and individuals, a nearby pharmacy may be their closest and first point of contact when medical assistance is required.
We, at The Local Choice, understand the responsibility of our role as a network of high-quality healthcare providers. Therefore, we make our extensive range of services accessible and affordable for all members of the public. As most healthcare experts in the country, we at The Local Choice are dedicated to the prevention of the spread of HIV and Aids, as well as providing health management plans for patients positively diagnosed with the virus. Through testing, counselling, and walking a road with each patient, we provide invaluable professional support.
What Is HIV and Who Should Be Screened?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is often thought of as a frightening diagnosis, as there is no cure once the body becomes infected. Modern treatments such as antiretroviral therapy (ART), however, mean that the virus is no longer a death sentence. When diagnosed and managed early enough and correctly, patients with the virus can expect to live out normal life spans. This is why early testing and medical guidance is so essential.
The virus itself attacks the immune system – the body’s natural defence against infections. This means that individuals who are HIV-positive are more susceptible to other infections and diseases which may do much more harm. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic and dangerous disease that develops when HIV is left untreated. Because the virus is spread through bodily fluids, unprotected sex and sharing or using unclean needles are the most common ways to get it. Prevention of the disease therefore relies heavily upon education surrounding unsafe sex with partners and the risks of drug abuse.
While it is encouraged that everyone gets tested, HIV testing is especially recommended to individuals who fall into higher-risk groups, such as:
- Individuals with multiple sexual partners.
- Individuals who have had unprotected sex with a partner of an unknown HIV status.
- Drug users who have shared substances via needles or syringes.
- Sex workers.
- Individuals who have been screened for, or will be receiving testing for sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, or hepatitis.
- Individuals who have had a sexual partner with a history of any of the above.
What Does Testing Entail?
HIV testing entails more than symptomatic diagnosis, as the only way to tell whether or not you have the virus is by testing the blood or other body fluids. Several testing methods exist, such as antibody screening tests, antibody/antigen combination tests, nucleic acid tests (also called RNA tests), and even at-home test kits. Getting yourself screened at a reputable medical facility or pharmacy such as those in The Local Choice network, however, is always a better way to ensure accurate results.
Is Counselling Necessary Before and After Screening?
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding HIV, and counselling prior to and after screening can help patients sift through myths and falsehoods. It also enables patients to make positive life changes in terms of diet, exercise and general wellbeing, and prepares them for these changes. Learning to cope with the illness through essential emotional and psychosocial support helps patients stay positive and take ownership of their health. Here at The Local Choice, our clinics provide both screening and counselling, and we also link our patients with other specialists and healthcare professionals they might need to see.
For more information on our screenings, chronic conditions support, and available products, be sure to get in touch with us today.