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World Aids Day

The Problem of Living with AIDS 

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has an interesting history from the 1950s to the present day.

Once called "the gay plague" or the Gay Related Immune Disease (GRID), it was regarded as a disease mainly affecting homosexual men. Even when it was discovered that women could contact it through sexual relations, it was still regarded as the "gay disease" for many years. The term AIDS was first used by the CDC in 1982. 

What is AIDS? 

AIDS is the end stage of the viral disease HIV. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks a person's immune system, making it susceptible to diseases it should ordinarily be able to fight against. People with HIV start with non-specific symptoms such as sore throat, fever, and fatigue. Then, they enter a chronic stage where the disease is latent and present but showing no symptoms. The final stage of HIV is AIDS.

 

At this stage, the immune system is severely weakened, and the affected person shows symptoms such as:

  • Unintended and fast weight loss 
  • Chronic diarrhea 
  • Pneumonia 

 

Diagnosing HIV early enough and starting treatment with antiretroviral drugs can help a person living with it to live a full, healthy life without ever developing AIDS. 

How HIV/AIDS is Spread

HIV/AIDS is spread by body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal discharge, and breast milk. Therefore, the most common methods of contracting HIV/AIDS are:

Sex

A person can transfer HIV/AIDS to another person by sleeping with them. The transfer of bodily fluids from one person's body into another carries the virus into the other person's body. Even when penetrative sex is avoided, small sores in the mouth or genital area are enough entry points for the virus to pass through.

Mother-to-Child Transmission

A mother with HIV/AIDS can pass it on to her child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. If a mother is diagnosed and is taking antiretroviral drugs, this can be avoided. 

Sharing Needles/Using Unsterilised Needles 

Needles come in contact with a person's bloodstream. They are supposed to be discarded after a single use. Sharing needles or using unsterilized needles puts a person at risk of HIV/AIDS or other diseases. 

How AIDS is Not Spread 

AIDS is not spread by regular interactions with an infected person, such as:

  • Hugging
  • Sitting close to the person
  • Shaking hands
  • Sharing cutlery
  • Dancing
  • Sharing toilets 
  • Sharing plates 
  • Any form of contact or touch that doesn't involve body fluids

Other ways AIDS cannot be spread include:

  • Mosquitoes and other insects
  • Through the air
  • Through saliva, tears, or sweat. 

The stigma of people living with AIDS

Famous American actor Charlie Sheen hid his HIV status from the public for four years while paying millions of dollars to people threatening to expose his secret if he didn't pay them off. 

The assumption is that he paid the blackmailers for so long because he was aware of the negative attitudes that people have towards people living with HIV/AIDS and did not want to be a victim of that. He has since come out to tell the world of his status, saying he feels like he's "carrying the torch" for others living with HIV. 

 

Effects of Stigma 

People living with HIV/AIDS often anticipate negative treatment by people around them, much like Charlie Sheen did. This, coupled with the adverse treatment they receive when people discover their HIV status, has terrible medical and social effects on them.  

Medical Effects of Stigma

Delay in Seeking Healthcare 

Anticipating and later internalizing the negative beliefs and attitudes people have about people living with HIV/AIDS can cause people to put off going to the hospital to get tested and receive a diagnosis. Sometimes the attitude of health workers who are not adequately educated about HIV/AIDS makes this situation worse. 

Poor Mental Health 

Stigma against people living with AIDS can cause them to develop poor beliefs about themselves. They can develop low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and poor drug adherence. 

Social Effects of Stigma 

Relationships

People living with HIV/AIDS can have complicated relationships. They can be ostracised by people they were once close to and sometimes suffer violence. Navigating romantic relationships is also difficult because of the myths associated with the disease. 

Employment 

Increased costs of healthcare and more frequent trips to the hospital can put a strain on a person's employment and financial security. They could also face taunts from colleagues and employees, leading to an impaired workplace experience. 

Protecting Yourself and Others 

Protecting yourself and others from contracting HIV/AIDS is possible by following these simple guidelines. 

  1. Do not have sex without a condom. 
  2. Do not have sex with multiple people. 
  3. Insist on using new, sterilized needles for injections or other procedures you need to get done in a hospital. 
  4. An HIV test should be part of the routine tests on pregnant women. 

 

Stopping HIV Stigma

We can join forces to stop HIV/AIDS stigma by:

Talk openly about HIV/AIDS 

HIV/AIDS is not a taboo topic. It is a disease that affects and has claimed the lives of millions of people. Talking openly about it and educating yourself and others is an excellent way to dispel myths people have about the disease and people who have it and foster better attitudes towards people living with HIV.

Stand up against discrimination 

When you see someone being discriminated against because of their HIV status, please stand up for them when you can and correct the wrong behavior. Apart from the immediate relief your help will bring them, you will be sending a message to other people that such behavior is inappropriate. You can do this by speaking up when someone says something harmful or reporting to the appropriate authorities where necessary.

 

People living with HIV/AIDS are people too. People are loved, appreciated, and cared for like everyone else. We should encourage and support them, not cast them aside.

 

It is important for you to know your HIV status, especially if you are sexually active, pregnant, or doing more things that could increase your chances of getting it. If you have HIV, seeking treatment early will save your life. 

You can consult a doctor virtually and get a HIV test done in the comfort of your home with Zuri Health. Just text Vera on +234 913 000 6888 if you're in Nigeria or +254 756 551551 if you're in Kenya. Your consultation and test results will remain confidential. 

Zuri Health Launches Women’s Wellness Packages in Kenya and Nigeria

Zuri Health, who strongly believe in the right to access in healthcare for all, are sending an encouraging message this Women's Day and aiding more women in getting regular wellness checks, starting with the Basic, Standard and Comprehensive Wellness packages. The packages can be booked at zuri.health and the tests can be done in the comfort of the customer's home in Nairobi - Kenya, and in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria. In Kenya, payment via insurance is also accepted. The packages are:

Kenya:

Nigeria:

The Wellness Packages are meant for the woman who wants to take charge of her life, who wants a simple check for peace of mind, the working woman, the "big girls", the mother who hasn't been for a checkup in a long time, for the well-rounded woman who has it all except the information on her health.  They are meant for every woman. Wellness checks are very important in detecting any health issues that may arise and get treatment in time, or to detect ones that are existing and recommend treatment options going forward.

Zuri Health Launches Wellness Packages For Valentines

With the goal to encourage more men and women to be proactive and check their health status, we have launched amazing wellness packages to suit anyone's pocket in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. There are 3 types being offered this February and are available for either men or women here: Why are these wellness checks important? 1. Catch a disease in its early stage - so you can treat it and even stop it from getting worse. It also enable you to have a medical history so in future a doctor can assess if there has been any changes that they need to diagnose further. 2. Find out of you have risk factors - sometimes you do not always see the disease or condition blow up, most times there are sik factors that show doctors what condition they may likely evolve into. Wellness checks help doctors to determine any risk factors you might have and help prevent any condition from occurring in future. 3. Protect yourself - wellness checks enable doctors to advise on what medication or lifestyle changes you need to take or make to improve your health. 4. Find a condition - you might have already developed a condition before the wellness 5. It's cheaper in the long run - catching a condition or risk factors earlier on will save you from spending a fortune in the future if a disease advances to the next stage and more serious medical procedures or medication are required. The greatest advantage of our wellness packages is that we come to you wherever you are so you do not need to move around with your probably busy schedules, and you can pay via a preferred means. To book a package for yourself or someone you love, go to valentines.zuri.health.

Zuri Health CEO’s Letter to Investors for 2021

Dear Valued Investors,

A happy 2022 to you all and I wish you a great year ahead!

It has been a significant month at Zuri as we just celebrated one year since launching. We kicked it off with a team strategy meeting and in-depth analysis of our product to plan out the coming months.

Our Achievements

Here is a review of our 2021 operations and I will highlight a few of our milestones:

  • Crossed 300k subscribers on SMS

  • Set up testing partnerships in 8 countries

  • 5000+ app downloads

  • Over 45,000 patient-doctor interactions on SMS

  • 15+ Telco partnerships

  • 22 staff member strong

  • 3 awards

  • Live in 7 countries

  • Joined Founders Factory Africa

Our 2022 Focus

Our 2021 was very impactful and growth-encouraging and our plans are to double this growth by over 200 percent in 2022, as we are focused on building our team with better systems that will enable us to achieve these goals.

We have identified areas where we would need to fine-tune in other to meet our 2022 goals:

  • Our technology operations

  • Our speed of execution

  • Our processes and system

  • Our onboarding of new talent

  • Our fundraising strategy

  • Our storytelling

I would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank you for your kind corporation, to apologize if we did not meet any of your expectations or give feedback on time, but I do encourage you to keep investing in us in the future as well.

I look forward to meeting each one of you at your earliest convenience to discuss our 2022 plans in detail.

Kind regards,

Ikechukwu Anoke Let's talk: ikechukwu@zuri.health Founder - Zuri Health

Meet the Zuri Health Founders

Launched in January 2021, Zuri Health aims to improve access to healthcare in Africa through mobile phone applications and services. It was an idea borne by Ikechukwu (Iyke) Anoke (in the image on the right) and Daisy Isiaho (left). Iyke's motivation to start the healthcare company was very personal. The first scenario was the birth of his first child, Zuri. His wife was in labour and the pregnancy had complications at that time and their doctor was unavailable. Their (private) hospital could not even give them a replacement to deal with the complication, as they claimed they had no access to Iyke's wife's medical history. The second scenario was when Iyke himself wasn't feeling well, and his wife, a medical doctor by profession, encouraged him to stay home while she called for someone to come take medical tests from his home. He had his results given to him over phone in less than 2 days. This sparked a thought: how amazing it would be for patients get access to healthcare from the comfort of their home, get medical prescriptions delivered, get their results without ever having to step into a hospital, and have a medical history on a digital platform that will be easy for any doctor they consult to see as long as the patient approves access to it. Daisy's story was personal too. When Covid hit Kenya, she was forced to work from home. Her mother, a medical doctor, had to leave home everyday to go and consult with patients, give prescriptions and take tests. This was worrying for Daisy who feared her mother would catch Covid-19. She wondered if there was a way to take these consultations, tests and prescriptions onto an online or mobile platform. These two ideas collided and so Zuri Health was born. Here's more about the founders: Ikechukwu Anoke
A serial entrepreneur disrupting the sub-Saharan tech space. He is also the founder and CEO of Play Group Limited, with over 17 years in the Africa continent working as a senior executive with multicultural teams at award-winning fintech Sacco, and BrandLife Marketing Agency. Back in 2011, at the age of 27, he was named the Group CEO of MTech Communications PLC one of Africa’s Leading Mobile VAS Companies where he successfully led the company to become the biggest content aggregator in Africa with over 5000 music titles and market leader status in Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Rwanda.
Daisy Isiaho
With a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science, she is a strong commercial leader with a track record in strategic thinking, new business development, commercial execution and people development in the Tech sector having served in various capacities at Mesozi Group and Cloud9xp. She was among the top 40 selected into Future Females Business School Healthtech Programme.
With Zuri Health, users can subscribe as either health providers such as hospitals, doctors and pharmacies, or as patients. The platform has a mobile app on Android and iOS, and also has a USSD platform to enable easier and diverse access to healthcare. It is currently available in 7 countries, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia.
As of January 2022, Zuri Health has grown to over 4000+ app downloads,  400,000+ SMS service subscribers, 35000+ SMS engagements with doctors, 15+ Telco partners across Africa, 250+ Doctors, 9 Pharmacies, 22 Labs & Diagnostic centres onboarded, and a community of over 72,000 followers across all social media platforms. What is the Zuri Health advantage? Watch here:
You can access all Zuri Health services on www.zuri.health.

Zuri Health Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary!

Launched in January 2021, Zuri Health is a mobile app that helps patients to access and book certified healthcare services on-demand based on availability, location and specialization of the provider, aiming to provide affordable and accessible healthcare solutions via mobile with dedicated apps, WAP and SMS services easily and quickly in the palm of patients’ hands. We enable doctors and health institutions to sign up and provide services through the platform, increasing their visibility, patient base and their income.  The app is currently available in Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia.  Over the past year, we have grown with the following notable achievements:
  1. Live in 7 countries
  2. A community of over 250 doctors 
  3. Over 9 major pharmacies are available to access
  4. Over 18 labs on the platform 
  5. Over 5000 mobile app downloads
  6. Over 400,000 SMS subscribers 
  7. Over 1500 lab bookings
  8. Partnered with over 15 telcos for USSD service integration
  9. Over 4000 WhatsApp bot interactions.
After these milestones, Zuri Health co-founders Ikechukwu Anoke and Daisy Isiaho are both excited about the year ahead for the company.   “It has been heartwarming to see us grow in such a small period of time. We will ensure that we continue to provide quality healthcare access in Africa in more countries in 2022”, said Ikechukwu. Daisy added, “We will work even harder to ensure that Zuri Health is even more seamless and easy to use for both our application and SMS subscribers.” For the next year ahead, our team plans to increase the SMS user base to over 1,000,000 people. We also expect to launch in several more countries including Ghana, Tanzania, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Angola and Senegal. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Benefits of a Regular Health Check Up

We live in the century of the hustle and fast-paced life, where technology has become the biggest substructure and on which we humans are always on the run. Barely taking the time for ourselves, we do not eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise or lead a healthy lifestyle, added to these are the environmental factors. While these may manifest and hint in our health in discrete ways, we tend to overlook them presuming that they are petty and trivial, until things get ugly and our health is in neck-deep trouble. The reason why you should be getting checked by your doctor even when you are feeling healthy is that medical exams can help detect health problems early on. Sometimes they can be detected before they have even started. Once the problem has been detected the doctor can help you with treatment and even a cure which ultimately gives you a better chance at a happy, healthy and longer life. Of course, your age, health, family history and lifestyle choices will affect how often you need to receive a check-up at your health practitioner. Do not wait until you are sick before you pay a visit to the doctor for what should be a routine examination. Make it a habit to take care of yourself and your health by making regular appointments with your doctor throughout your life. Regular health checks are vital for 3 reasons:
  • Health problems can be detected at an early stage before they develop into something much more serious.
  • A screening test can detect and prevent a serious illness like cancer.
  • Preventing health problems from becoming chronic can save you money.
In an endeavour to raise health awareness to the local people and encourage the importance of regular health checkups. Zuri health shall be conducting a free medical camp in partnership with Checkups Medical Hub at Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya, Kawangware on Sat, 11th of Dec. All are invited.

We Stand With Red: HIV/AIDS Awareness

A virus that diproportonatly affect the continent with over twenty million reported cases, Africans are no stranger to HIV/AIDS. Over the last two decades steps have been taken by the healtcafe sectors to raise awareness about the various and it treatment. One of the biggest steps as a continent toward raising awareness is gradual changing of our mindset from one of condemnation and ostracization to understand and inclusion. On this World Aids Day we delve deeper and break don the important aspect of this virus. What Is HIV? HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells of the immune system, affecting the body’s ability to fight infections and making a person more vulnerable to those infections. HIV is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex or through sharing needles. If HIV is not treated, it can therefore lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) which is the late stage of HIV infection, and it happens when the immune system becomes badly damaged due to HIV.  When does the patient develop AIDS? 
  • When the number of their CD4 cells falls below 200 cells/mm3. 
  • OR when the patient develops one or more opportunistic infections regardless of their CD4 count.
CD4 cells are the type of white blood cells that fight infection. HIV destroys CD4 cells and as the immune system loses CD4 cells, it becomes weaker. When the loss of these cells become to large, the patient risks getting AIDS-related opportunistic infections. A CD4 cell count is an indicator of the immune function in HIV  patients. Treatments  There is still no effective cure for HIV, but there are multiple medications that can control the disease and this helps the patient to live a long and healthy life. some also work to prevent HIV transmission to the sexual partner and children born to mother infected with the virus. The most effective treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART). This is a combination of several medications that can control the amount of the virus in the body. ART slows the rate at which the virus grows. Other treatment for HIV/AIDS include PrEP(pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a prevention method for people how are HIV-negative and have high risk to be exposed to the virus, they can get antiretroviral medication to prevent acquisition of HIV infection.  PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is the use of antiretroviral medications for people who are HIV-negative after a high-risk exposure to HIV infection (exposure can be through sex or sharing needles with infected person). It should be started as soon as possible to be effective. Research by: Mariam Alsulimani

The Future of Mental Health: VR Therapy

Throughout the past decade, we as humans have enacted many changes to improve our living conditions, from a rise in climate change discussions to discussions on race and gender equality. One of the biggest shifts this past decade was the acceptance and destigmatization of mental health issues. Over the past few years, we have slowly and surely pushed forward the conversation of mental health awareness from discussions of work-life balance to detection and treatment of mental health-related medical issues. Existing treatments have been re-evaluated and new therapies developed tapping into the tech industry, to aid an ever-growing populace of people actively putting their mental health first.  One such breakthrough is VR Therapy. In this article, we will break down this emerging technology looking at what it means for the world in general and its feasibility on the African continent.

What is VR Therapy and How does it work? 

Virtual reality therapy (VRT), also called virtual reality exposure therapy, allows the patient receiving the treatment to enter a virtual (simulated) world that is carefully constructed to increase their exposure to negative stimuli, so as to build resilience and emotional strength when placed in the real world.  VRT makes use of a virtual world created by VR technology to put a patient in situations you can learn from. Previous iterations were simply programs loaded onto a computer, that a patient would work through, and based on the conditions sought to be treated. However, with the breakthrough of the VR headset, current therapies make extensive use of the complete immersion that is offered for a much-improved experience and treatment. Already the technology has been put to use in treatments for several conditions including:
  • Fear of flying, public speaking, and spiders
  • School phobia in children
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
 

Reception and Acceptance

Early results of VRT have largely been positive. Recent studies have found that the VRT was as good as a combination of drug therapy and VR therapy, where some situations showed drug therapy alone led to a worse outcome for patients.  Already the technology has found success in various applications around the world. It has long since been used by the US government to treat PTSD in soldiers from as early as the 1990s. The Canadian government also purchased the software from America in hopes of implementing it among their own soldiers. The main drawback to this form of therapy however is the cost of the equipment and programs needed. Because of this, virtual reality therapy isn't readily available to the masses. This type of therapy can also cause what is known as VR sickness. People who have this condition due to prolonged exposure to a VR environment may experience flashbacks, motion sickness, vertigo, seizures, and antisocial or nervous behavior. These symptoms are most likely to occur after 30 minutes or more of VR therapy. 

VRT in Africa

While still an emerging form of treatment, several institutes in Africa have seen the advantages such technology can bring. The biggest problem for Africa remains acceptance and cost. Africa as a continent still struggles with the acceptance of mental health as a medical issue and it is not uncommon for mental health struggles to go undiagnosed due to a severe lack of specialists or to be misdiagnosed when they are known. Traditional ideas also play a part as the more overt mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are often attributed to curses or possessions in the more traditional societies. The cost of the therapy also plays a role in the lack of research and use of VRT.  As a developing continent, most African countries spend their budgets on agriculture, development, and projects for economic growth.  More often than not medical research institutes have to rely on limited budget allocations or foreign intervention. Even when the funds are available, priority is given to the eradication of prevalent diseases such as malaria or childhood malnutrition. However, this does not mean that research into VRT is quiet. Gerard Finnemore a clinical psychologist from South Africa uses Virtual Reality for relaxation and mindfulness training and will soon be incorporating it into treating other conditions.  In Egypt researcher Ahmad Al-kabbany is pioneering virtual reality (VR) therapy in the city of Alexandria despite the region’s economic challenges. “We’re not aiming at making it accessible for everyone not because we don’t want to but we need to deal with the financial conditions as they are,” says Al-Kabbany In Nigeria, the startup company VMedKit has developed content to facilitate VRT which could also be used for personal wellness and meditation. The company, officially launched in 2018 and aims to make mental health care accessible to Nigerians and Africans in general. However, VMedKit is not the first company in Africa to undertake such an endeavor. The startup VRHealth launched in 2017 in South Africa. As of the writing of this article, the startup seems to have gone quiet with little about its operations being known. The future of VRT as a viable form of therapy remains hopeful as the prices of VR equipment become more affordable and research into the field continues to grow.

A Welcome Loss

Weight Loss: The Myths and Facts

Bodyweight has become a rather topical and controversial topic over the past five years. This is partly due to social media and especially the rise of platforms such as Instagram that allow its users to share photos about their lives. Weight and body shape have been at the center of this. That being said, bodyweight is very much a medical issue as it is linked to many medical conditions as both a symptom and a cause. Oftentimes when we go in for full medical check-ups this issue is brought up and we may be told that we need to lose a few kilograms. Shockingly this isn't true for everyone and some people are actually told to gain weight(but we won’t  get into that in this article)   Not everybody needs to lose weight but if you want or need to, here are some pointers to help you do so and some myths to avoid following.

Myth: It's all about the exercise 

Verdict: False Fact: Losing weight is actually more about your lifestyle than solely your workout routine. Imagine eating a five-piece chicken meal with large chips and a soda for every meal and expecting to lose weight simply because you go to the gym three times a week. Besides the other health risks of this diet, you may actually find that you gain more weight. Most of the weight we lose comes from the food we eat, about 70% actually. Eating less also isn’t always the answer. If you are eating rather large portions during each meal then a reduction in meal size is a benefit. However, for most of us this isn’t necessary, and doing so might actually have adverse effects and affect your workouts. You might also be thinking “well I'll just exercise harder and more frequently”. This can actually be detrimental when you start working out. Besides the fact that you may not be giving your muscles enough recovery time, overworking them can make you sick the next day or lead to muscle tears which is a whole other kettle of fish.

Myth: *insert exercise* only reduces stomach fat

Verdict: False Fact: When we exercise, we burn fat from all over our body, not just in the area we are ‘targeting’. This misconception comes from the fact that when we work on a specific area of our body, for example, our legs, we see more definition and change in that area. This however is merely muscle definition and in no way is a representation of the fat content.

Myth: I need to vary my exercises

Verdict: True Fact: For the best impact it's best to keep it varied but simple. Doing cardio, lifting weights, mixing in some compound workouts such as deadlifts, squats pull-ups, etc achieves the best results. Ditch the new health craze workouts and stick to the tried and tested methods.

Myth: Sleep affects weight loss

Verdict: True Fact: Sleeping affects how much weight you lose as well. For example, when we are fatigued we are less likely to want to do physical activities. You may end up opting to use a car service instead of the usual fifteen-minute walk to and from the office(yes those thirty minutes are beneficial). Sleep also helps in regulating our hormones, including the hormones leptin (the hunger hormone) and ghrelin, the “feeling full” hormone. Without adequate sleep, these hormones might not function properly, leading to you feeling hungry or not feeling full when you eat.

Myth: Do your stretches first

Verdict: False Fact: Getting your blood pumping before a workout is a common practice so we stretch before we get into it. In reality, it is really not necessary and can sometimes even be problematic especially when we don't stretch properly. Rather than stretching before a workout do it after as a form of post-workout cool down just before hitting the showers.

Myth: I need to lift weights

Verdict: True Fact: Lifting weights does a whole lot more than strengthening and defining the muscles in the forearm. It also boasts a whole lot of other benefits such as increased metabolic rate which burns more fat, improving your hormonal profile, sleep, and balance. So while you should still get your cardio work-out e.g. running don’t forget to add weights to your routine. Remember not to mix your workout. Don't lift weights during the same session as you are doing cardio to allow for recovery. So if you focus on weights on a Wednesday,  take a jog on the treadmill on Friday.
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