Stand together to manage HIV


COVID-19 has been making global headlines all year. While about 770 000 South Africans tested positive for the new disease by end November 2020, an estimated 7.7 million South Africans live with HIV, a virus we’ve know about for a while.

South Africa is battling two pandemics at the moment: HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. No matter your status, these viruses and the diseases they cause affect all South Africans. While COVID-19 and the lockdown alert levels are constantly in the news, 1 December is World AIDS Day and a reminder that we all need to stand together and take shared responsibility for stopping viruses from spreading.

As UNAIDS explains: “COVID-19 has demonstrated that, during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Leaving people behind is not an option if we are to succeed. Eliminating stigma and discrimination, putting people at the centre and grounding our responses in human rights and gender-responsive approaches are key to ending the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19.”

Wear your red ribbon and your mask to show your support.

What can you do?

Everyone can help by knowing their HIV status. Research shows that 90% of people living with HIV know they have the virus. To protect yourself and your family, we recommend all adults get tested for HIV once a year as part of your yearly health check. We pay for the health check from Discovery Health Medical Scheme’s Screening and Prevention Benefit.

Although a lot of work has been done to reduce discrimination against people living with HIV, the stigma still continues. It can mean people with the virus are abandoned by their families, excluded from social events, expelled from school and face a lack of care and support. Advances in treatment means people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. There is no reason to treat someone with HIV differently from other people with long-lasting conditions such as asthma.

What care you can you get for HIV?

While your HIV status is nothing to be ashamed of, we and our consultants will never tell anyone your status without your permission. Getting cover and support for managing HIV doesn’t mean giving up your privacy.

We support members with HIV and AIDS with cover that doesn’t use up your day-to-day benefits through our HIV Care Programme. If you don’t register for the programme, we pay for your HIV treatment from your day-to-day benefits.

The HIV Care Programme, together with your Premier Plus GP, can help you actively manage your condition. HIV Care gives you and your Premier Plus GP access to various tools to monitor and manage your condition and to ensure you get high-quality coordinated healthcare and the best possible outcomes.

When you register for our HIV Care Programme and choose a Premier Plus GP to manage your condition, you have cover for the care you need.

How do I register for the HIV Care Programme?

The HIV Care team will only speak to you, or your treating doctor about any HIV-related questions. You can register on the Discovery HIV Care Programme by:

How have we helped other members who have HIV?

While it’s useful to know that you have access to tools and benefits, it’s difficult to imagine how they can make a difference in your life if you haven’t experienced them yet.

Sameshni Moodley’s life changed after she did a HIV test as part of a routine Discovery Wellness Day health check in 2008. Knowing her status and having access to support and cover from someone who understood, gave her the power to decide “I wasn’t going to allow HIV to take control my body and life!”

Where do HIV and AIDS advocates come from? For Wade Schaerer it started with 82 missed calls, a positive HIV test result and a doctor telling him “It’s not a death sentence anymore”. He got HIV from unprotected sex. "It's sad how ignorant I was. I've now gone fully public."

  • Sources

Avert. HIV and AIDS in South Africa. Accessed 24 November 2020.

National Institute for Communicable Diseases. COVID-19 testing summary: South Africa (week 46 2020). Accessed 24 November 2020. COVID-19 statistics in South Africa. Accessed 24 November 2020.

UNAIDS. World AIDS Day 2020. Accessed 24 November 2020.

Image sourced from Freepik ( Ribbon photo created by jcomp -

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Discovery Health Medical Scheme, registration number 1125, administered by Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, registration number 1997/013480/07, an authorised financial services provider and administrator of medical schemes. Vitality is a separate wellness product, sold and administered by Discovery Vitality (Pty) Ltd, registration number 1999/007736/07. Limits, terms and conditions apply.

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