Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
Women living with HIV and AIDS from 13 southern African countries attending a capacity building session on palliative care and HIV resolved to go back to their countries and demand access to appropriate care, including the management of pain. Research into pain associated with specific illnesses shows clearly that the pain associated with HIV and AIDS is even more severe than that associated with cancer, and yet AIDS is generally not acknowledged (or managed) as a painful disease.
Women were requested by presenter Dr Natalya Dinat of the Centre of Excellence on Palliative Care, Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital to list the pain they experience as part of their experiences of living with HIV. Most women had extensive lists. She then confirmed that despite women experiencing various and sometimes debilitating pain, they do not have the symptoms properly managed and are expected just to live with the pain and ‘get on with it’. Palliative care specialists have made great advances in pain management and according to Mary Callaway, Director of the International Palliative Care Initiative, Public Health Programme, New York ‘no-one need suffer’ – pain management is possible and should be available as a human right.
The women present at the OSISA-funded workshop were urged to tackle the issue of pain with their service providers – and to demand that their pain be taken seriously. Palliative care should not be seen as something that happens at the end of life when there is ‘no hope’. Instead palliative care should be offered from the time of diagnosis assisting people with the pain associated with advancing HIV disease and the side effects associated with treatment.ShareThis