World AIDS Day 2021: "Aurum helps me live positively with HIV"

World AIDS Day 2021: "Aurum helps me live positively with HIV"

 “I was very sick, I was finished. It was God’s mercy that saved me from death. So when I was diagnosed with HIV, I started treatment and I take it vigilantly.”

Millicent Mnisi is one of the more than 580 000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) who have been initiated and retained on antiretroviral treatment (ART) by The Aurum Institute in the past 5 years.

 Second chance

The 53-year-old from Tembisa was diagnosed with HIV when she sought medical care after falling seriously ill. “Of course, no one thinks it will happen to them but when it did happen to me, I had to make peace with it and learn how to live with HIV. After what I went through, I felt this was my second chance at life and did not want to waste this blessing by not adhering to treatment,” said Nkosi.

She disclosed to her children who were hit hard by the news but rallied to support her.  “Everyone in the house knows that at 9pm, Mama must take my medication, they are the ones who remind me before the alarm goes off. Even when they are not home, I still hear their reminders in my head,” she added.  

Pelebox

Bridgette Kgolane, Aurum Tembisa Pharmacist Assistant said Mnisi was enrolled in the DABLAP Meds programme which allows her to collect treatment for four months at a time and come for clinic visits only for check-ups. “Once registered on the programme, patients can collect medication at any time of the day, even after work. We also receive pre-packed medicine parcels and ensure that they are loaded into the Pelebox smart pill locker, where patients can collect their treatment at a suitable time,” said Kgolane.

Mnisi collects her ART from the Pelebox at Winnie Mandela Community Health Centre in Tembisa. “I love the Pelebox, it has made things so convenient and takes me less than I minute. I don’t queue and take up space for sick people who need to see nurses,” she added.

Supports

This clinic is one of the many clinics in which Aurum supports the Department of Health’s HIV programme to achieve the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets for HIV epidemic control by 2030. Funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Aurum supports the HIV and AIDS / STI / TB (HAST) programme in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng and the Dr Kenneth Kaunda (DKK), Ngaka Modiri Molema (NMM) and the Bojanala Districts in the North-West.

Our work includes HIV prevention research, including clinical trials of candidate biomedical interventions for HIV prevention, and implementation research of novel prevention practices including for key populations like mine workers, adolescents and young people, inmates and sex workers. In the past five years, Aurum has conducted about 1.4 million HIV tests every year. Part of implementing large-scale, high-quality HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes, Aurum supports a range of client-centric interventions to ensure PLHIV are adherent and retained in care. Through POP INN clinics, we also cater for men who have sex with men and transgender women. This is all underpinned by education on the fundamental principle of U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable).

Understand

Mnisi said she the information she obtained from Aurum nurses helped her understand HIV, and how to take care of herself. “I was treated with respect, and they were very patient with me, answering all my questions and helping me deal with the diagnosis and learn how to help others handle it. That is why I encourage others to not let the ‘what will people say’ syndrome and stigma turn you away from HIV care, at the end of the day it is your health and your life,” said Mnisi.