By Dr Godwin C. Ukeje, Doctor, Blogger, Entrepreneur & Naturalist.
HIV has long been a stigma among those tested positively, but there has been a decline globally, thanks to the immense global public health efforts. However, Diabetes (Type 2) is still on the rise despite the prevailing profound efforts in education, treatment and new drug manufacture. What could be the cause of this disparity? This article makes an attempt to dissect them.
HIV is easier to manage
Once you are diagnosed of HIV, you are as good as a normal person. You will only need to change lifestyle, and eat normal foods. You are not expected to avoid any food. Infact, food/good and balanced diet is one of the main ways to manage the condition. On the other hand, if you are diagnosed of Diabetes, you are restricted from eating your “favorite” foods, and making adherence difficult. In other words its easier to eat more foods (for HIV) than to abstain from some foods (for Diabetes).
Diabetic orthodox medications are taken for life
A patient with HIV can live without taking the HIV drugs, but it’s not so for a diabetic patient who depends on orthodox medicines. Once you are HIV positive, it doesn’t mean you will be placed on HIV medications, unless if your CD4 count goes below 350 or you develop some defining opportunistic infections irrespective of your CD4 count, otherwise balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can keep you like every other Norma person, but if you are diagnosed of Diabetes, you MUST be on antidiabetic orthodox medications, irrespective of your sugar level (with frequent adjustments based on level).
More proneness to diabetic complications
Diabetic patients run the risk of having low blood sugar as a complication which can lead to death in minutes to hours depending on availability of help/emergency response. On the other hand, patients who are HIV positive are not known to run the risk of any emergency or sudden death, except on very few occasions. The rate of Diabetic complications is more frequent and widespread (involving the whole body) compared to HIV infection.
Higher treatment cost for Diabetes than HIV
The overall cost of managing diabetes is more than that for HIV. Most of the tests and drugs for HIV have been subsidized as compared to those for Diabetes. The number and cost of investigations or tests a diabetic patient conducts are more than that of a patient with HIV. Diabetic complications are more challenging to manage compared to those of HIV/AIDS except on very few occasions that involve the brain (HIV Brain Disease). This can change if more diabetic drugs especially newer ones become subsidized for patients by concerned agencies and bodies, just like HIV drugs.
To conclude, HIV disease is a slow progressive condition which is subject to early detection and early response to management. And leads to AIDS after some months or years depending on the persons immune system. But for Diabetes, most cases of type 2 Diabetes are discovered with complications at first presentation, compared to HIV. In the control of Diabetes, its more difficult for the patient to adhere to lifestyle and dietary instructions as compared to HIV disease. That is, it’s difficult for diabetic patients to obey to dietary advice, because they need to abstain or cut down their usual cravings, but it’s the reverse in HIV patients.
The rising incidence of diabetes is a source of worry, and attributable to the lack of lifestyle modifications among the populations, and rising cost of treatments.
More attention should be paid to tackling diabetes menace, in terms of subsidizing cost of tests, and drugs/treatment as it is done for HIV patients, by agencies/organizations responsible.
Recent studies have shown the beneficial anti-diabetic effects of natural/herbal products that contain plant-sourced ingredients like Momordica carantia (bitter gourd) and the likes, yet there are paucity of studies to validate their use. Concerned health regulatory bodies such as World Health Organisation (WHO) should invest more on researching these areas to come up with a lasting cure (which are untapped) for this scourge. All policies made via political means, should be done away with for the sake of humanity. People are dying!