CONTINUOUS EDUCATION – HIV/AIDS
Caring for a person with HIV/AIDS requires both physical and emotion support and can be an exhausting task. It also requires taking care of yourself — managing the stress of caregiving and keeping yourself healthy — so you can provide the care your loved one needs. It is important to be in contact with every person involved in caring for the patient, including family members.
WHAT IS HIV/AIDS?
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. When the amount of virus in the patient’s body becomes very high, it results in AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). With AIDS, the patient’s immune system (or the ability to fight off infections and other diseases) does not function very well. With treatment, your patient can live with the virus without developing AIDS and be able to fight infections and other diseases.
HIV/AIDS IN WASHINGTON, DC
Washington, D.C. is one of the areas hardest hit by HIV in the United States, with approximately 2.7% of the population living with HIV. In other words, approximately one (1) in every three residents of the city has HIV. Ward 8 has the highest rate followed by Wards 7, 5 and 1.
Most HIV transmission in the District of Columbia is connected to heterosexual (male to female) contact. Other methods of transmission include men having sex with men (MSM) and use of contaminated needles (drug use). Blacks are more likely to be infected through heterosexual contact, whereas whites and Latinos are more likely to be infected through MSM contact. Across all racial/ethnic groups, heterosexual contact accounts for the majority of cases among women.
HIV can be prevented by using condoms during sexual intercourse, not sharing needle stick and other sharp devices such as razor blades, wearing gloves and other protective devices when handling material that contains bodily fluids. Also, the use of HIV medications immediately after accidental exposure to bodily fluids of HIV patients and/or patients with unknown HIV status can prevent the disease.
CARING FOR PERSONS WITH HIV/AIDS:
Make the person with AIDS feel at home. For most people with AIDS there is no place like home. To make your client feel at home, ask what you can do to make that person comfortable. Many people are shy about asking for help, especially with tasks like bathing or using the toilet. If possible, let the person stay in a room that is close to a bathroom. Leave items the person might need, such as tissues, towels, or blankets, in easy reach
Encourage good nutrition. Do your best to provide the person with a well-balanced diet, including plenty of nutrients, fiber, and fluids. Encourage your client to eat as much as he or she is able. Preparing food for a person with AIDS requires a little extra care. It is important to keep hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces clean. It is also important to wash fresh fruits and vegetables well, cook or peel organic vegetables, cook meats and poultry well, and avoid uncooked seafood and raw eggs.
Protect against infections. An infection that would make you mildly ill, if at all, could be serious or even fatal for a person with AIDS. To avoid spreading infections, wash hands often, keep your immunizations up to date, don’t allow visits from friends or family members who are sick, and keep the home and laundry clean. Also protect yourself from infection by not sharing personal items such as tweezers or razors and by using rubber gloves if you will have contact with bodily fluids or wastes
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