Persons who are living with HIV are being implored to avail themselves of powerful antiretroviral (ARV) medication to give themselves a chance at life.The appeal comes from Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA) Coordinator, National Family Planning Board (NFPB), Ainsley Reid.
Speaking in an interview, Mr. Reid said that these drugs are effective even in cases where persons present late for treatment and have HIV-related complications.
ARTs work by keeping the level of HIV in the body low, which lets the immune system recover and stay strong.
“When you introduce ARVs into that situation they help to improve the quality of health of that person. The drugs have the ‘Lazarus Effect’, so if you get sick now and are even bedridden then take the medication, within three months, you could be good to go back at work and other activities,” he explained.
Mr. Reid stressed the need for persons to get tested for HIV, so that they can know their status and access treatment.
“You cannot tell that someone has HIV by just looking. People should get tested, get on ARVs and live. HIV has no respect for age, class, colour, profession or gender,” he pointed out.
He said it is important for persons living with HIV to take the medication according to the doctor’s instructions and to maintain a healthy diet as part of the wellness effort.
“The medication impacts the amount of virus in your system, so you have to eat right, exercise, think positively. If you have a support group in your community, join the support group and meet other people living with HIV and hear the diversity of the experiences of the group,” he advised.
The GIPA Coordinatoris recommending that persons should get tested for HIV at least once per year,but noted that even more important is for them to take steps to reduce their risk.
“So if you get the test done and you are negative, what may be needed is the behaviour change. Take immediate steps towards not putting yourself at risk again. You want to ensure that when you get the test done you use the information wisely and be proactive,” he said.
Jamaica will join the rest of the international community in observing World AIDS Day on December 1.
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