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Tips for Working Effectively with People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV)

People Living with HIV (PLHIV) are no different from other persons living with a chronic illness. They too have the right to adequate treatment, care and support. So here are a few tips for working effectively with Persons living with HIV (PLHIV).

  • Whatever your role or function “don’t be judgmental”. Most PLHIVs often have concerns about being judged or stigmatized by others. As a Psychologist this is my number one rule: people living with HIV/AIDS are people, no better or worse than others. We often forget this.

  • Be compassionate – There is tremendous psychological burden and anxiety associatedwith living with HIV and this often impacts their treatment and prognosis. A little sympathy is encouraging and goes a long way. It can ease the emotional strain of being infected.

  • Remember HIV/AIDS is a disease. WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO IT. The best, most decent and even the most innocent among us can be infected. The bottom line is: HIV/AIDS is a disease that can affect anybody.

  • Understand their psychosocial needs. Provide relevant information about the condition: ignorance creates and maintains distress.

  • Respect the right to confidentiality. A person’s HIV status is personal and sensitive information.

  • Don’t assume that you know what’s best without discussing it. Give persons the opportunity to actively make decisions about their health.

HIV/AIDS has many faces. It could be the face of your child, sibling, friend or partner. As a society we ignore this basic truth, and we relegate people living with HIV/AIDs to the “them” group. Stigma and discrimination dehumanizes persons living with HIV/AIDS. It is my belief that this is one of the greatest facilitators to the perpetuation of the epidemic. Our best hope in stemming the tide of this epidemic is to understand that HIV/AIDs is not about ‘them’ it’s about ‘us’. We are all impacted and we can each affect change. Hopefully these simple tips will assist us in providing quality healthcare to persons infected with HIV/AIDS.

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