Palliative care needs of people with HIV

For many people in the western world HIV has become more manageable and for some a chronic disease. [1] This has posed new and different challenges for palliative care service provision [2] and seen some patients struggle to deal with a new lease of life.

The change in life expectancy has been as a result of access to improved therapeutics, however this access is not equitable. In some countries HIV AIDS has reached epidemic proportions and it is still a life threatening illness. The WHO African region remains most severely affected, with nearly 1 in every 25 adults (3.7%) living with HIV and accounting for more than two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide. [3]

Nurses will come into contact with those who are managing their HIV and with those who are not. Patients with symptomatic HIV or with AIDS (and who have palliative care needs) can be seen in many different settings and have a range of very different care needs and circumstances.

  1. Chu C, Selwyn PA. An epidemic in evolution: the need for new models of HIV care in the chronic disease era. J Urban Health. 2011 Jun;88(3):556-66. 
  2. Merlins JS, Tucker RO, Saag MS, Selwyn PA. The role of palliative care in the current HIV treatment era in developed countries. Top Antivir Med. 2013 Feb-Mar;21(1):20-6.
  3. World Health Organisation. Estimated number of people (all ages) living with HIV [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 Jan 11].

Last updated 20 August 2021