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WATCH | Bhekisisa: How to cope with taking HIV meds for life

People with HIV get depressed more often than those without the virus. This can make it hard to take their daily lifelong medication correctly. 

In this Health Beat episode, Bhekisisa’s TV team visits Yvette Raphael, who has been taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for 23 years.

We also speak to a psychiatrist, counsellor and HIV doctor to find out what’s the best way to cope with difficulties that come with having to take meds for the rest of your life. 

  • HIV infects CD4 white blood cells. Our brains also have such cells. When HIV gets to someone’s brain it causes inflammation and may lead to confusion. 
  • ARVs can change that. The pills stop HIV from making copies of itself, reducing the amount of virus in someone’s body — mostly to such low levels that it becomes scientifically impossible to infect others.
  • ARVs, however, have to be taken for the rest of an infected person’s life and that often leads to anxiety and depression. That’s why South Africa’s HIV plan says nurses should be allowed to prescribe antidepressants (not just doctors) so they become easier to obtain.

This story was produced by the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism. Sign up for the newsletter.

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