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Liberty Medical Scheme is committed to the wellbeing of members living with HIV/Aids

30 November 2012Liberty Medical Scheme
LMS Executive Principal Officer Andrew Edwards

LMS Executive Principal Officer Andrew Edwards

On 1 December, people around the globe will once again celebrate World Aids Day. This year there are even more reasons to celebrate. The recent release of the 2012 USAID report showed that an unprecedented acceleration in the response to Aids is wielding

According to the 2012 report, HIV infections have, since 2001, dramatically decreased in some countries, including those that have some of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. HIV infection is down by 73% in Malawi; 71% in Botswana; 68% in Namibia; 58% in Zambia; 50% in Zimbabwe; and 41% in both South Africa and Swaziland.

Deeply committed to the health of all its members - including those living with HIV/Aids - Liberty Medical Scheme (LMS) and its HIV management partner, Aid for Aids (AfA), are joining in the global celebration. In their own small way, both LMS and AfA have contributed to the improved HIV/Aids outcomes. They have achieved this through, among other things, proven and prudent managed care methods and programmes, says LMS Executive Principal Officer Andrew Edwards.

“Sound HIV/Aids management and adherence to the treatment protocols to which LMS firmly subscribes, are clearly having the desired results. Not only are individuals living with HIV/Aids benefiting, but the entire country, too, as more and more people remain active and productive, thus contributing to the economy,” says Edwards.

As a responsible corporate citizen and caring stakeholder, with the best interests of both its members and the broader community at heart, LMS wholeheartedly supports the World Aids Day campaign, Edwards adds. The theme, Getting to Zero, will run until 2015, with the goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero Aids-related deaths.
Edwards says that LMS partnered with AfA, South Africa’s leading HIV/Aids management company in the private sector, because AfA fully understands the needs of patients and equips them with the treatment and tools to lead normal, fulfilled lives. To date, AfA manages the care and treatment of more than 110 000 people living with HIV.

By enrolling on the confidential Aid for Aids programme, LMS members gain access to a wide range of benefits. These include medicine to treat HIV and prevent mother-to-child transmission, and that help prevent infection after a sexual assault or occupational exposure. Also included is treatment to prevent opportunistic infections, like certain serious pneumonias and TB; regular monitoring of disease progression and response to therapy; regular monitoring tests to pick up possible side-effects of treatment; ongoing patient support via a treatment support line; best practice clinical guidelines; telephonic support for doctors by a team of acknowledged clinical experts; and help to find a registered counsellor for emotional support.

According to AfA, for those living with HIV, managing your condition involves more than just clinically appropriate treatment. “It is vital that a person living with HIV enrol on the programme as early as possible after diagnosis. This may, in fact be long before they need antiretroviral medicine.

“By enrolling early, members gain access to support and guidance from our treatment support staff. They are a highly skilled and compassionate team who understand the complexities and challenges facing a person living with HIV. They can be invaluable when mentally and emotionally preparing a person for the journey ahead."

Early enrolment also means that someone living with HIV can be introduced to treatment at the right time. Not only will this improve the effectiveness of the medicine, but it will also have a significant impact on their overall health and quality of life.

The LMS HIV/Aids registration process is very consumer-friendly. The member and his/her doctor complete the application form and send it to AfA, along with the member’s prescription and blood test results. AfA then reviews the application and discusses the treatment plan with the member’s doctor, explaining necessary treatment, medication, monitoring schedule and any other requirements.

A dedicated case manager is also assigned. They will contact the member on a regular basis to provide him/her with assistance, support and advice about their condition, while also reinforcing the importance of using the medication correctly and punctually, and having the necessary blood tests done.

“A timeous response to, and the appropriate management and treatment of HIV/Aids have proven that the disease is no longer a death sentence. It is manageable, like any other chronic condition,” says Edwards.

“LMS will continue to make a difference by assisting its HIV-positive members to register on the best possible management programme so that they can live happy and fulfilled lives.”

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