Caring for a family member with HIV/AIDS

If you have a family member with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), it can be extremely important to give them both physical and emotional support to help manage their journey through the illness as gently as possible. Here are some ways that you can help a loved with HIV/AIDS.

Help them get to appointments

There is a growing understanding of how to manage HIV in its earliest stages to help control the progression of diseases. This can include regular medical appointments with specialists to work out treatment regimes, regular blood tests to assess the effectiveness of different medications and check-ins with general practitioners to check overall health and well-being. These can be tiring and arduous, particularly if your loved one doesn't drive or has long public transports journeys to the appointments so it can be useful to help get them to and from these appointments.  

Help them to manage their overall health

HIV and AIDS leave people very vulnerable to viruses and secondary infections. It can be helpful to provide some regular home-cooked meals to your friends and encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle. This can include having a balanced diet, regular exercise and good sleep patterns as well as avoiding locations which may have sick or infectious people. It can also be a good idea to abstain from tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs which can all lead to a weakened immune system. In many cases, secondary infections are very serious for people with HIV or AIDS so anything that you can do to help support their immune system can be extremely important to their overall health. 

Help them manage their mental health

People with HIV/AIDS can often feel isolated from their social groups and may become depressed as they deal with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. While it is very important to have family and friends help to manage the physical symptoms of the virus, it is also important to help your loved one manage their mental health. Encourage them to keep up with social appointments and make time to see them in ways that are not related to being ill - such as seeing a favourite movie, having a picnic in the park or having a nice meal at a restaurant. These small gestures can make life easier and more enjoyable. 

If you are looking for more ideas on how to support a family member with HIV/AIDS you should speak to a health worker who specialises in this area.