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How to Be an Effective Caregiver to a Person With HIV/AIDS

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that induces acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Becoming an effective caregiver to a person with HIV/AIDS involves education, understanding and the desire to assist an individual experiencing an illness that comes with particular challenges.


  1. 1
    Learn about HIV/AIDS. Becoming educated is an important part of the care giving process. Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS have caused unnecessary confusion and fear in various communities, preventing individuals from participating in the care and daily activities of a person living with HIV/AIDS.
    • Read guides and other literature that offer basic information to get a better understanding of the illness.
    • Participate in a class or support group that focuses on value of an effective caregiver that takes care of a person with HIV/AIDS.
    • Take a course to learn the skills needed to care for an individual living with the illness in home or hospital setting.
    • Talk with a medical professional about the different stages and how to develop a comprehensive plan of care for the various phases experienced.
  2. 2
    Allow individuals with HIV/AIDS to maintain as much of their independence as possible. They typically do not want to become a burden to anyone. Make them feel comfortable and respect their need for self-sufficiency.
    • Offer assistance for various tasks such as paying bills, eating, toileting, bathing and dressing.
    • Arrange items such as remotes, tissues, wash cloths and wastebasket for easy access.
    • Ask to open blinds or curtains to brighten the room.
    • Organize the bedroom as close to the bathroom as possible and maintain a clear path from the bed.
  3. 3
    Maintain a clean environment. This is critical for an individual living with HIV/AIDS. Infections or germs can cause serious illness. A bacteria free environment is critical when assisting with personal care, food preparation and household tasks to prevent the person from becoming sick.
    • Wash your hands frequently. Hand washing should also be done anytime you sneeze, cough, handle trash or touch around your mouth and nose.
    • Wear disposable gloves during personal care and handling laundry.
    • Bandage any cuts or wounds you have.
    • Stay away until you are healthy if you become ill with shingles or impetigo.
    • Wash fresh produce when preparing meals.
    • Use a clean cutting board when cutting any food item.
    • Encourage participation when preparing food to maintain esteem.
  4. 4
    Advocate emotionally. Moral support is vital when caring for an individual living with HIV/AIDS. Suffering the various stages of the illness and its complexities can be overwhelming. Open communication can help the person with HIV/AIDS feel positive and provide normalcy.
    • Avoid forcing a conversation when the person appears preoccupied mentally.
    • Offer to listen if he or she may wish to talk.
    • Discuss topics in the news, television or books.
    • Touch them. Hand holding or hugging offers comfort and acceptance. Respect the person's request if they prefer not to be touched.
    • Go places together if the person is well enough. Take a trip to the store, museum, park or a short walk. Fresh air and sunshine can be healthy if just sitting on the patio.
  5. 5
    Take care of you. Your health and well-being are also important while caring for an individual with HIV/AIDS. Being at your best will instill confidence in the care you provide. The person you are caring for will feel good that you make a conscious effort to stay healthy in his or her environment.
    • Get the proper rest.
    • Eat a balanced diet.
    • Update your immunizations and annual flu shot to stay healthy.
    • Talk with the doctor or other medical professional about special precautions you should be aware of if the person you are caring for becomes ill.

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  • Update medication records each time medication is administered.
  • Keep a journal of progress in addition to medical events outside the normal routine.


  • Avoid exposing the person you are caring for to chickenpox, as it can be fatal. Contact the doctor immediately if you suspect exposure to chickenpox.

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Categories: Conditions and Treatments

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