Medical Information

Scientific leadership that enhances people’s lives

Discovering that you or a loved one has tested positive with HIV is scary. There is so much misleading information out there that getting the truth can be difficult. The information we provide is the truth. If you have any doubts or questions regarding this disease, come and chat to one of our Peermed professionals. We treat ALL information in the strictest confidence.


Aids is a scary topic. For many, it is so worrying that they find it easier to remain untested.

It does not have to be a guaranteed death sentence. At Peermed, we have many HIV positive patients who are living healthy and productive lives. We assist our patients with the correct dietary information and, where necessary, provide the required medication.

If you have any concerns about your status, come into Peermed for a simple test.

What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system which protects the body against infections.
What is Aids?

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) develops in the final stages of HIV. This is the stage where it becomes very difficult for the body to fight off infections.

How do you catch the virus?

Most people get the HIV virus by:

  • Having unprotected sex with an infected person
  • Sharing a needle with someone who is HIV-positive
  • Being born to an infected mother or drinking the breast milk of an infected woman
What are CD4 cells?

These cells are called “T-helper” cells, and are an important part of your immune system. Healthy people have between 500 and 1500 CD4 cells to a ml of blood.
Once the patient’s CD4 count drops below 200 HIV becomes Aids.

All about ARVs

Antiretroviral drug treatment (ARVs) is the main type of treatment for Aids and HIV. These drugs DO NO CURE, but they can keep people healthier for many years.

At which stage of the illness does treatment start?

This is decided in consultation with the patient’s doctor – a CD4 test is an important part of the decision.

What about side effects?

Most antiretroviral drugs have side effects; for some they are mild, and for others they are more severe. It is vital that patients do not stop their treatment – every missed dose increases the chance that the drugs will stop working…

Can HIV be transmitted to a baby?

If a pregnant woman has HIV, she can pass the virus to her baby during the pregnancy, the delivery or by breastfeeding.

However, modern drugs are extremely effective at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Speak to your Peermed doctor who will advise you on which ARVs are best suited to your circumstances.

Breast is not always best

HIV is found in breast milk and it is therefore recommended that HIV-positive mothers use milk formula. The staff at Peermed can advise you on which formula to use and how to safely prepare your baby’s bottles!

At a glance: important pointers in the prevention and management of HIV

Always use a condom.

Have your partner and you tested, especially at the beginning of a new relationship.

If you do test positive for HIV work closely with your Peermed GP to maintain good health.

NEVER miss a dose of ARVs – the medication may then stop working.

    • There is NO cure
    • You cannot catch Aids from mosquitoes.
    • HIV-positive people cannot be detected by their appearance.
    • Aids is not restricted to gay men.

Did you know?
More than 5.5 million people are living with HIV and Aids in South Africa

Hypertension is another way of describing high blood pressure. It is known as the “silent killer” as there are rarely obvious symptoms.
At Peermed, we can check your blood pressure for you. If it is high we can prescribe corrective medication, and give you advice on how you can change your lifestyle to lower your blood pressure and improve your quality of life!
Hypertension – the silent killer
Two out of three people who have hypertension are unaware that they have the condition.
If it is left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart attacks and a shortened life expectancy. And yet there are really good medications that can easily treat this.
If you have any concerns about your blood pressure, come into Peermed for a simple test.
What should your blood pressure be?
When your blood pressure is taken, there are two parts to the reading: the systolic pressure which occurs when your heart beats, and the diastolic pressure which occurs between heart beats.
So, when your doctor gives you your blood pressure reading, it will be described as one figure over another, for example 145/95 (SBP/DBP).
A guide to blood pressure readings
Set out below are different levels of blood pressure as defined by the Heart Foundation of South Africa:
Normal 120/80 to 129/84
High Normal 130/85 to 139/89
140/90 to 159/99
Moderate 160/100 to 179/109
Severe + 180/110
How Can I lower my blood pressure?
There are several simple lifestyle adjustments that will lower your blood pressure and make you feel better all round:
  • Lose weight, especially if you have belly fat. Even a few kilograms will help!
  • Watch your alcohol intake – an added benefit of this is that you will lose weight faster.
  • Limit your salt intake
  • It sounds boring, but you really should be eating more fruit and vegetables! Cut fat off your meat before you eat it, and try not to eat too much refined sugar – fizzy drinks are full of sugars!
  • If you don’t exercise, start now. Begin with gentle exercise a few times a week, such as a walk around the block. Remember: if you haven’t exercised for a while, speak to your Peermed doctor first.
  • The aging process can result in hypertension.
  • Some medication can increase blood pressure.
There is a genetic link with high blood pressure
If there is a history of high blood pressure in your family it is even more important that you get tested on a regular basis.
A worrying trend seen by health practitioners is that many people stop taking their medication.
As hypertension can be present with no obvious symptoms, some patients decide on their own accord to stop taking their medication.
This can be a fatal decision.
If you are prescribed medication never stop taking them and never alter the amount you take. These are decisions that must be made by your General Practitioner
Reduce your salt intake
A diet high in salt increases your chances of having high blood pressure. Look out for the word sodium on food labels; taste food before just adding salt; learn to cook imaginatively by adding spices and herbs to your food!
Did you know?
According to the Heart Foundation of South Africa, the black population has a higher predisposition to high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.
Pregnancy is not the same for everyone. If you are pregnant, and have any concerns, come and speak to us.
Our highly qualified team is trained to assist our pregnant patients, and to give them and their unborn babies the best medical care
Pregnancy – caring for two 
So you’re pregnant? For many women, this is both a wonderful and scary time.
If this is your first pregnancy, you may feel a little apprehensive! Even if you have been pregnant before, this time around may be totally different. Just as women are different, so are pregnancies!
If you do have any apprehensions the Peermed team will put your mind at ease.
First things first: are you definitely pregnant?
If you suspect you are, pop into your nearest Peermed Clinic. We’ll do a simple test, and if its positive, we’ll work out a health regime for you and your baby!
  A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks and is divided into three trimesters.
What to expect in your first trimester?
Nausea and possibly vomiting (especially in the mornings)
Craving for certain foods and a dislike for others
Mood swings because your body is affected by huge hormonal changes.
The need to urinate (wee) more often.
You may feel very tired.
By three months your baby is almost 7cm long. He is fully formed and has started kicking and swallowing. He even has his own, unique set of fingerprints!
What to expect in your second trimester?
You are going to start showing
Your risk of miscarrying is greatly reduced now
If you felt nauseous this may vanish, or at least reduce
By the end of the second trimester, your baby is approximately 12cm in length. His finger and toenails are well formed, and he has tiny eyelashes and eyebrows. He yawns and stretches now and again!
What to expect in your third trimester?
As your baby grows and pushes down on your diaphragm, you have less room to breathe – this can cause shortness of breath and heartburn.
Back pain – ask a family member to give you a massage.
You are going to feel more tired – carrying a growing baby uses up a lot of energy. Rest whenever possible.
By week 36 your baby is about 45cm long. He is putting on weight rapidly and his lungs are developing fast in anticipation of his first breath!
You must eat for two.
No, you don’t want to gain too much weight – this is unhealthy for you and your baby.
Sex will hurt the baby
No, having sex when you are pregnant will not harm your unborn baby.
If I suffer from heartburn, my baby will be born hairy.
There is no proof of this!!
In the old days, tuberculosis was commonly known as Consumption because that describes the illness as it wastes or consumes its victims.
Nowadays, tuberculosis is a treatable disease with millions of healthy survivors to prove it!
The Peermed team is extremely experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of TB – if you have any concerns come and talk to us.
Tuberculosis Is Curable
Tuberculosis has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa, and yet it does not have to be this way.
The majority of cases of TB can be managed, treated and cured. If you or any of your loved ones suspect that they have TB, act immediately. The longer TB remains untreated, the more people can become infected.
Remember that all healthcare issues are treated with the utmost confidence at Peermed.
How does my Peermed doctor diagnose TB?
There are various methods we use for diagnosis:
  • Chest x-rays
  • Analysis of sputum (mucus
  • Skin tests
The link between TB and HIV
Attempts to eradicate TB in South Africa have been hampered by the HIV/Aids epidemic. Because HIV sufferers have lowered immune systems, they are at a higher risk of contracting tuberculosis.
HIV patients must be treated regularly for the presence of TB as it is very important to begin medication as soon as possible.
Your Peermed GP will work out a comprehensive treatment which will work alongside your ARV medication.
What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infection most commonly found in the lungs. It is usually spread from one person to another by breathing infected air. If someone has a weakened immune system (such as an HIV sufferer), the body may battle to contain the bacteria and the TB may spread to other parts of the body.
What are the common symptoms of TB?
There are no symptoms until the infection reaches the lungs. As the bacteria are slow moving, TB develops gradually. When symptoms do begin to appear, you may experience a combination of:
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Loss of weight
  • Coughing
  • Night sweats
Can my baby contract TB?
Babies can get the disease by inhaling the airborne bacteria just like adults.
Babies and children are at high risk for contracting tuberculosis when they:
  • Are born in a country with a high rate of T
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Live in a household with an adult who has TB
  • Live in communities with inadequate health care
  • As babies cannot tell you how they are feeling, do not take any chances. If your baby may have been in contact with a TB sufferer, come in and see your Peermed doctor as soon as possible.
A worrying trend seen by health practitioners is that many people stop taking their medication.
As hypertension can be present with no obvious symptoms, some patients decide on their own accord to stop taking their medication.
This can be a fatal decision.
If you are prescribed medication never stop taking them and never alter the amount you take. These are decisions that must be made by your General Practitioner
A serious complication of the TB problem in Southern Africa has been the emergence of a multi-drug resistant (MDR) strain. Patients with this strain have to be treated with very expensive medicine, and it only has about 50% success rate.
Reduce the spread of TB
Get tested for TB regularly, especially if you are HIV-positive.
If someone near you coughs or sneezes, turn your head away and cover your mouth.
Open windows in crowded spaces.
If you have TB, take your medicine as prescribed – never deviate.
Many sexually transmitted infections have no symptoms but can still be passed from person to person.
If you are in a new relationship, we recommend that you both pop into your nearest Peermed clinic for a check-up.
Once you both have a clean bill of sexual health you can concentrate on your life together!
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are not something people like to admit to, or talk about.
And yet, they cause so much pain and discomfort to thousands of people. STIs are treatable, and if caught early on, long term effects can be greatly reduced.
If you have any of the symptoms listed below, or suspect you may have been infected come into Peermed today – you will be treated in full confidence with dignity and understanding.
STIs – a huge problem in South Africa
STIs are on the increase in South Africa. Symptoms and signs associated with infection (burning urine, lower abdominal pain, genital itch, vaginal discharge, and genital ulceration) are often not recognised or are just ignored.
The South African Medical Research Council calls sexually transmitted infections South Africa’s “hidden epidemic”. Their statistics are frightening:
  • in the general community, 25% of women have at least one STI
  • about half of these are asymptomatic and hence remain undetected and untreated
  • most of the remaining women with symptomatic infections delay or defer seeking treatment
  • only about 2% of infections are treated within a reasonable time
  • only about a quarter of those treated actually receive the correct drugs
  • re-infection rates are likely to be high as partner treatment strategies are inadequate
What are some of the most common symptoms of sexually transmitted infections?
Remember, in the early stages some STIs have NO symptoms; common ones however are:
  • Itching and/or discharge from the vagina
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Small blisters that turn into scabs on the genital area
  • Flesh-coloured warts around the genital area
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain during urination

If I am diagnosed with an STI will my Peermed doctor be able to cure me?

STIs that are caused by bacteria can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Examples of these are:
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
Unfortunately STIs caused by viruses cannot be cured. Examples of these are:
  • Herpes
  • HIV
  • HPV
Your Peermed doctor can, however, help you by treating the symptoms and making the disease more manageable.
How can STIs be diagnosed?
At Peermed we will discuss your symptoms with you and then decide which route to go – either an examination, a culture of bodily secretions, or through a blood test.
If you do test positive we will provide full counselling and medical expertise
Sexually transmitted infections do not discriminate.
Don’t take a sexual partner’s word that they do not have an STI. They may not even know it themselves. Always use a condom and ALWAYS have you and your partner tested.
Did you know?
If left untreated, STIs can cause serious health issues. Syphilis can lead to paralysis, mental problems, blindness, and eventually, death.
Chlamydia can result in pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Most couples presume that their desire for children will be automatically met, and yet for many couples, this does not occur.
Infertility can place a huge burden on a relationship. Sexual relations turn from a loving experience to one fraught with anxiety. Our Peermed doctors are trained to recognise and treat the causes of infertility. If you are battling to conceive, come in and chat to us.
Infertility can be defined as the failure of a couple to become pregnant after 12 months of regular unprotected sex.
Unfortunately, many women blame themselves. Some see it as a punishment for having done something wrong in their lives; some women believe that witchcraft is responsible for their infertility.
It is vital that both women and men understand the common causes of infertility, and, where possible, how to treat them.
Male Infertility
When a couple fails to conceive, the man is often reluctant to seek advice as many see this as a “female” problem. And yet, in many cases, it is the male who is infertile, and it is important that he is tested as well. Some factors that negatively affect male fertility are:
  • Prolonged use of drugs
  • Excessive stress
  • Malnutrition
  • Anabolic steroid use
  • The wearing of tight underwear
What can be done?
Analysis of the patient’s semen has to be done. Here, semen is examined for sperm disorders such as problems with sperm number, shape and mobility.
Your Peermed doctor will also conduct a full examination, including blood pressure etc.
What are the treatments for male infertility?
Treatment for male infertility depends on the cause, how long you have been infertile and your age. Treatments include:
  • Surgery for example where a man has an obstructed vas deferens (muscular tube through which sperm moves).
  • Hormone treatment and medication: in some cases, infertility is caused by high or low levels of hormones.
  • Assisted reproductive technology: where a man has problems with sperm delivery, sperm can be removed from the testicle and injected into his partner’s egg. This is then implanted into the woman’s uterus (womb) and a normal pregnancy continues.
Female Infertility
Failure to ovulate
One of the most common reasons for infertility is the failure to ovulate (release an egg into the uterus). There are many reasons why this may happen; however, the good news is that about 70% of these cases can be successfully treated with medication.
Damaged fallopian tubes
If fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, the egg may not be able to move successfully from the ovaries to the uterus. In many cases, surgery is successful.
Cervical Causes
This is quite rare, but some women may have a condition where sperm cannot pass through the cervical canal. This condition can be resolved with intrauterine inseminations (treated sperm is injected directly into the woman’s uterus.
Other causes of infertility in women include:
  • Scarring from sexually transmitted infection
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia
  • Heavy drug use
For some couples, infertility is not treatable. This could be because the problem causing the infertility cannot be cured or discovered.
Where the man is infertile, donor sperm can be used. Where a woman cannot fall pregnant but has a healthy uterus, her partner’s sperm can be combined with a donor egg. This can then be implanted into her uterus.
If becoming a parent is extremely important to an infertile couple, adoption is always an option. There are thousands of children in South Africa who are desperate for a loving, happy, stable home.
Your child could be out there waiting for you…
Did you know?
The chances of a woman falling pregnant reduce by 3% to 5% each year after the age of 30, and greatly reduce after the age of 40.
At Peermed we understand that in the busy rushed lives we lead, it is easy to eat on the run and not get enough exercise.

Our patients are our top priority and we care about your health. You’ll find these facts about cholesterol very informative and filled with simple ways to lower your cholesterol and lead a healthier life.


Cholesterol … a word that fills many of us with fear. It seems such a daunting subject that it is often easier to ignore until it is too late.
Well, if you’re one of our patients who worry about what it all means, but don’t know where to start, here’s a simple guide to understanding AND managing your cholesterol levels.
If you have any concerns about your cholesterol level, come into Peermed for a simple test.
Diabetes is a serious health problem is South Africa. 
There are millions of people living with diabetes who are not even aware that they have the disease. At Peermed, your health is our concern – with a simple test we can establish whether you are one of those AND we can help you manage the disease and ensure that you live a healthy, productive life.

We provide testing for diabetes and complete follow-up treatment and support.


Are you constantly thirsty? Has your appetite increased? Do you need to urinate more often? Are you often really exhausted?
If you have some of these symptoms, read this information sheet carefully. This will give you the simple facts about diabetes AND how you can manage it.
If you suspect that you, or any one of your loved ones, may have diabetes, come into Peermed. We will give you a test straight away and will also provide all the support and follow-up treatment you may require.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes develops when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin OR when the body becomes unable to use the insulin it produces effectively.
Are there different types of diabetes?
Yes, there are type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 normally occurs in childhood and is an auto-immune condition.
Type 2 is much more common and is generally associated with poor lifestyle choices.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
There are several factors that put you at risk:
  • Obesity
  • Increasing age
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • A family history of diabetes
What is the treatment for diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes does require regular insulin injections, but type 2 is generally treated in a combination of ways: the doctor will suggest lifestyle changes in the form of healthier eating and regular exercise. If this proves insufficient, then there are a variety of medicines your doctor can prescribe for you.
Is diabetes curable?
Unfortunately it is not. But, there is absolutely no reason that with lifestyle changes and the correct medication where necessary, you can live a long and productive life.
If you do not get treatment for diabetes what can happen to you?
High sugar levels can cause long term damage to organs including the heart and kidneys. It can also lead to damage to nerves which can result in limb amputation and blindness.
Pregnancy and Diabetes
Women who have diabetes can have safe pregnancies. What is important is to have blood glucose levels tested regularly to ensure that the unborn baby is healthy.
There is a type of diabetes known as gestational diabetes which some women develop; it generally disappears completely once the baby is born.
There are lots of silly things being said about diabetes. If you have nay concerns check with us – we’ll put your mind at ease:
Some people believe that diabetics can use brown sugar and that white sugar is bad for you. Brown sugar is STILL sugar – just a different colour.
Diabetes in NOT caused by a parasite.
Eating sugar does not cause diabetes. Eating lots of sugar can make you overweight which can increase your chances of developing diabetes.
Did you know?
It is estimated that there are 12.1 million adults living with diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa – and that only 15% have been diagnosed.
South Africa’s traditional flu season is the winter months. The young, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems (such has people living with HIV/Aids or TB) are at risk and must have the flu vaccine.
Don’t wait for the flu to find you – when the cold weather arrives come in to your nearest Peermed Clinic and have the vaccination. Be well this winter!
Influenza is not the Common Cold
Influenza (the flu) is a serious viral infection that kills thousands of South Africans each year.
The majority of cases of TB can be managed, treated and cured. If you or any of your loved ones suspect that they have TB, act immediately. The longer TB remains untreated, the more people can become infected.
Is it the flu or just a common cold?
As these two illnesses are similar people may think that they have had the flu, and thus not bother to have the flu vaccination. This is very dangerous as the flu can lead to complications, and even death. Both the flu and the common cold present with similar symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Aching muscles
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
When you have a cold, you may feel ill, but you can generally get on with your life.
With flu, you feel exhausted and need to sleep a lot.
When you have the flu, aches and pains are more severe than with a cold, and the fevers are worse.
A cold may take a few days to develop, and will generally start with the patient experiencing a runny nose and itchy throat.
The flu tends to develop faster with aches and fever appearing quickly.
A cold will tend to clear up within a week with few, if any, side-effects.
Flu can develop complications such as chest infections.
How to avoid the flu
  • Get vaccinated
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • If someone sneezes near you, turn your head and cover your mouth and nose for a couple of seconds!
  • Avoid congested areas if possible
Did you know?
The 1918 flu epidemic which lasted from June 1918 to December 1920 killed over 50 million people.

By Dr P Naidoo

Depression is a common but often overlooked medical condition characterized by a depressed mood or loss of interest and pleasure for 2 weeks or longer.

It has symptoms that include: feelings of worthlessness or guilt, appetite changes, fatigue, problems with sleep, weight changes, difficulty concentrating, agitation, slowness and suicidal thoughts.

It is further classified as mild, moderate or severe. Unfortunately people who are depressed, don’t often seek the necessary help .This is often due to fear and embarrassment. It is therefore vital that we recognise when someone is depressed.

From personal experience I find that providing support and allowing the person to speak or write down their feelings freely, is the basis on which treatment can be initiated.

Depression is a treatable condition. Patients require ongoing counselling from a psychologist and usually anti-depressants prescribed by a doctor or psychiatrist. It is also wise to point out to the patient that treatment is for a minimum of 6 months.

Anti-depressants usually take effect after a few weeks, so it’s important the patient is compliant. Once daily doses are all that is needed to control the depressive symptoms. Fewer side effects and improved tolerance of the newer anti-depressants make it easier for patients to adhere to treatment.

At Peermed we are linked to several psychologists who provide excellent counselling services. Confidential appointments can be arranged. We also refer timeously to experienced psychiatrists. It is important for all of us to recognise the symptoms of depression as its impact on one’s life can be devastating.

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