HIV/AIDS and Palliative Care

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that is carried from person to person through body fluids such as blood, breast milk, semen or vaginal secretions. It damages the immune system and this can lead to illness and infection.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is an advanced stage of the HIV infection. The virus attacks white blood cells. So AIDS can lead to other infections such as certain types of cancer.

HIV/AIDS is now an acute illness rather than a chronic illness because of new medicines (HAART, or highly active antiretroviral therapy).

HIV/AIDS Symptoms and Treatment— How Palliative Care Can Help

Palliative (pronounced “pal-lee-uh-tiv”) care is specialized medical care for people facing a serious illness like HIV/AIDS. The goal is to improve quality of life. You can have palliative care at any age and any stage of your illness, and you can have it with all other treatments.

A team of doctors, nurses and other specialists provides palliative care. They work in partnership with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.

If you’re living with HIV/AIDS, palliative care can help by managing your symptoms and treatment side effects.  These include pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The palliative care team will spend time with you and your family to help you match your treatment choices to your personal goals.

Palliative care teams don’t help just you. They support your family too. Palliative care will help you and your family achieve quality of life.

How to Get Palliative Care

Ask your doctor for a referral if you or a loved one needs palliative care.

Finding a hospital with a palliative care team in your area is easy. Just go to the Palliative Care Provider Directory for a state-by-state list. To find out if palliative care is right for you, take our quiz.