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According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, maintaining a healthy relationship can be challenging for anyone, but for those living with chronic illness, it can be especially difficult.

What Is a Chronic Illness?

A chronic illness is a long-term medical condition that affects a person’s daily life. These illnesses can be physical (such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, lupus, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis) or they can be mental (such as depression or anxiety). These conditions are managed and often require ongoing treatment to reduce symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

How Many People in South Africa Suffer From Chronic Illnesses?

According to a 2017 study by the South African Medical Research Council, approximately 80% of deaths in South Africa are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which include chronic illnesses.

Furthermore, it’s estimated that around 7.5 million people in South Africa live with diabetes, and around 17.5% of the population suffers from hypertension.

The Impact of Living with A Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness has a significant impact on a person’s life and relationships. The constant management and treatment of symptoms is physically and emotionally taxing. It also affects a person’s ability to work, socialise, and participate in activities they enjoy. Chronic illness can also place a strain on relationships as loved ones may not fully understand the daily challenges and limitations that come with the condition.

However, with extra effort and understanding, it is possible to maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship despite chronic illness.

Five Ways to Maintain a Healthy Relationship Despite Chronic Illness

  1. Communicate openly and honestly with your partner

It is important to keep your partner informed about your condition and how it affects your day-to-day life. This can help your partner understand your needs and how they can support you.

  1. Set realistic expectations

Chronic illness can affect energy levels and your ability to participate in certain activities. It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your partner, and to be understanding and flexible when plans change.

  1. Practice self-care

Taking care of your physical and emotional health is important to maintain a healthy relationship. Make sure you are getting enough rest, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

  1. Seek out support

Whether it is through therapy, support groups, or talking with friends and family, having a support structure helps you manage the emotional and mental toll of your chronic illness.

  1. Make time for intimacy

Chronic illness impacts sexual health and desire, but it is important to make time for intimacy and physical touch with your partner. Open and honest communication helps you navigate any difficulties and find ways to maintain a fulfilling physical relationship.

How Affinity Health Can Help

Affinity Health covers certain pre-approved Chronic conditions, subject to the selected plan type. The cover includes medical examinations and recommended treatment if necessary.

The Chronic Medication Benefit covers approved medicine listed on the Formulary for 24 Specific Chronic Conditions.


Chronic Disease Conditions covered by the Chronic Medication Benefit include Addison’s Disease, Asthma, Bronchiectasis Cardiac Failure, Cardiomyopathy, Chronic Renal Failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, Coronary Artery Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Diabetes, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV, Hyperlipidemia, Hypertension, Hypothyroidism, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Ulcerative Colitis.

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