Observing World AIDS Day in a year like no other

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Today is World AIDS Day, a day of observance for the millions living with HIV/AIDS around the globe, and the millions who have died from the virus. More than 38MM people worldwide are living with the virus. While the advancement of medications and treatments have no longer made an HIV diagnosis a death sentence, living with the virus is still a challenge for many.

Battling two pandemics at once

In 2020, we’re facing two pandemics at once. Coronavirus has upended the lives of everyone, changing nearly every aspect of how we live, work, play, and move throughout each day. There is no cure, no vaccine yet available, and millions have suffered through the virus while over 1MM have died from the virus. For patients living with HIV/AIDS, this latest pandemic overlaps the existing fight against an epidemic that has been raging for 40 years – the fight to end AIDS.

Ending the current Coronavirus requires the same attention and commitment needed to end the AIDS epidemic, and there is renewed fight to see the end of both diseases. Through scientific advancements, public support, reduce stigma, and greater compassion, the world is learning the necessary skills to end a pandemic. We remain committed to the cause today more than ever before, with greater achievements in the healthcare ecosystem that is making it possible to imagine a world without AIDS.

Significant achievements

There have been major strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS through the years, most recently with multiple countries making major declarations to end the epidemic within the next 10 years. Preventive and post-exposure medications are now widely available in major countries across the globe, and numerous financial assistance programs are making treatments available to more people than ever. Despite all of that, there were 1.7MM new cases in 2019, and 1 out of 7 Americans are living with HIV/AIDS.

At a time when there is more education than ever about preventing the spread of the virus, people are still being infected. One of the challenges in medication therapy is the role of adherence. In an evaluation of internal Medisafe data, 23% of users on HIV medications said they don’t take their medications on a regular schedule. For many patients on a cocktail of medications, whether it’s a once-daily pill with numerous vitamins and supplements, or a combination of drugs, timing is everything. Keeping up when to take what, at what quantity, and when to refill is a challenge all its own. With HIV/AIDS, the inability to maintain such a rigorous schedule can be daunting, and it can also mean eliminating an entire class of drugs.

The inability to maintain a consistent medication schedule limits the overall effectiveness of drugs to prevent the replication of the virus within a person’s body. Once a certain class of drugs is no longer effective in controlling the spread of the virus within an individual, an entire segment of drugs may no longer be considered available for treatment. The risks are just too great to take lightly.

Digital health helping to transform life with the virus

Technology is showing new innovations in helping to control the spread of the virus, especially in the form of digital health tools. New digital health applications enable patients to actively manage their health through a smartphone, staying updated on daily medications, finding new support for side-effects and symptoms, and engaging others in their journey.

New applications can also help providers stay connected with patients amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, adding new ways to integrate care for patients who may be struggling without a proper support system. Even the wearable market continues to improve in ways to measure heart rate, blood oxygen levels, sleep, exercise, and nutrition levels – all essential elements to living a healthy, balanced life while managing HIV. And digital health tools help make managing that complex cocktail schedule as simple as checking an app. The daily reminders and updates on refills mean less focus on meds and more time spent living life. The achievements in medicine and technology make living with HIV/AIDS easier, and brighter with more ways to stay connected with personalized care guidance.

A new future ahead

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is not over, but neither is the fight toward finding a cure. On World AIDS Day, Medisafe is proud to join the fight toward finding a cure. In the meantime, it’s equally important to draw attention to the role of medication adherence and engaging patients to take an active role in their health. With 18% of patients not using any medication at all to maintain their health, medication awareness and support is a critical step in the fight against AIDS. It’s why we will always make our platform available for free to patients, because managing a chronic condition like HIV/AIDS should be one less worry in life.