Counselling Issues

Global AIDS Program Technical Strategy: Palliative Care

May 16, 2004

Palliative Care
Background The philosophy and models of palliative care that center on improving the quality of life for patients and their families grew out of approaches aimed at offering pain relief and comfort measures for adult and children cancer patients. Palliative care for HIV/AIDS includes interventions that respond to the physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual, and bereavement needs of adults and children with HIV/AIDS and their families; from the time of diagnosis, through final stages of disease and death. Although AIDS is an ultimately fatal disease, advances in care and treatment over the past two decades have extended life expectancy and improved quality of life for persons living with HIV disease such that earlier manifestations of the disease are now preventable or curable. The distinction between active, curative treatment and palliation is blurred. Current definitions of palliative care reflect a holistic approach that begins with the onset of disease and continues throughout the course of this chronic condition. Palliative Care Definitions In the year 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined…palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. It goes on to include earlier language from the 1987 definition. . . Palliative care affirms life and regards dying as a normal process… neither hastens nor postpones death… provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms… integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care… offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death and to help the family cope during the patients...