Physiotherapy and HIV

Today is world AIDs day. 

Rhianna and Price Harry have been taking HIV tests in Barbados this week to raise the profile of HIV testing and treatment in the developing world.  Since 2004 AIDs-related deaths have been reduced by 42% and drugs have dramatically reduced a persons chances of transmitting the disease. Although the medical management of HIV/AIDs has drastically improved what about the non-medical implications?

A BBC article has been busting myths about HIV which have been around for the past 3 decades. It is quite startling how many misnomers still exist even in the western world. In a survey 20% of people believed HIV can be transmitted through kissing or via sharing a toothbrush, this is simply untrue. The virus is unable to survive outside of the body.

Let’ pause and think; does physiotherapy have a role in the management of a person with HIV/AIDs?

HIV affects all body systems which can vary the experience and disability of a person with the disease dramatically; orthopedic, neurological or respiratory symptoms can occur. Combined with an aging population these disorders often become chronic reducing quality of life and a persons ability to participate in meaningful activity. The uncertainty that results from HIV-related episodic disability over the course of the day, week, month or year has itself been shown to be disabling.

Within this context physiotherapy can have an important role in improving a persons quality of life and inclusion within society. Rehabilitation is yet to be a routine part of HIV programmes throughout the world although examples of best practice do exist. At the WCPT congress in S.Africa next year there is a focused symposium about physiotherapy and HIV, this could be your opportunity to help develop frameworks and policy that help shape a paradigm shift. Lets make those myths a thing of the past. #NotRetroJustWrong.

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