The ministry that we are at – Gembu Center for HIV/AIDS Nigeria (GECHAAN) is where Dan and I serve. Now that you know a little bit about HIV/AIDS I thought I would tell you how we are working to create awareness and treating those many people that are affected. One of the things we do here!
Currently we provide free testing, treating, and counselling for people when they come to us wanting a HIV test. We are one of the very few places for hundreds of miles that can do the CD4 test right here on sight. The person will be counselled, if HIV negative they are told how to stay that way. If HIV positive they are scheduled for the next three days for adherence class. This teaches them how they need to take their medications as prescribed, and not waver, also how to prevent transmitting HIV to another person. If pregnant, also how to help prevent the unborn baby from acquiring it. There is also nutritional training. This is very important because HIV affects your immune system. The things you can do to help it include taking your medication, exercise, and diet. In Nigeria there are many tribal myths about what you can do to “cure” AIDS. Of course, there is not a cure yet and these do much more damage then good. We work very hard at making sure anyone we come in contact with knows this and our counselors are very good at what they do .
In the past, through grants and programs GECHAAN has gone into remote villages and communities teaching, testing, and counselling many. This has contributed to a community that knows much more about HIV/AIDS and overall new cases are decreasing. GECHAAN has been synonymous with quality care in our area. We are working hard at making sure it stays that way and expanding our services.
What is the connection between medication adherence and drug resistance?
Taking HIV medicines every day prevents HIV from multiplying, which reduces the risk that HIV will mutate and produce drug-resistant HIV. Skipping HIV medicines allows HIV to multiply, which increases the risk of drug-resistant HIV developing.
Research shows that a person’s first HIV regimen offers the best chance for long-term treatment success. So adherence is important from the start—when a person first begins taking HIV medicines. Thus the counselling focus right at the start.
Typically, if a person gets to the point that no HIV medicines will work for him and his CD4 count is low, he will get Malaria, Typhoid, Pnuemonia, or something else and die from that. HIV/AIDS does not kill you. It weakens your immune system so another infection (co-morbidity) is what people will die from.
I hope this month’s blogs on HIV/AIDS have given you information that you possibly didn’t know and you can be a little more informed of what people living with this disease go through.