Protocol 3. Palliative care for people living with HIV/AIDS




Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families when facing the problems of life-threatening illness. While disease-specific (or “curative”) treatment is directed at reversing the course of an illness, palliative care is primarily focused on the prevention and relief of suffering in progressive, incurable disease. Early identification, sound assessment and effective treatment of pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems are essential elements in assuring quality palliative care. Ideally, palliative care and disease-specific treatment should be integrated throughout the course of chronic, life-limiting illness, rather than being divided into two completely disconnected treatment approaches. The balance between palliative and curative therapy should depend in a given situation on the etiology of the patient’s symptoms and suffering, the possibility of improving these symptoms through disease-specific and/or palliative interventions, and the availability of resources in the particular country.