29.1  What is positive living?

Positive living is a lifestyle adopted by an HIV-infected person in order to live life as fully as possible while slowing progression to AIDS. Adopting positive living practises improves the quality of life of PLHIV remarkably. Important aspects of positive living for PLHIV include making positive choices to care for one’s mental and physical health, having a positive outlook on life, and avoiding risky behaviours.

In this context, risky behaviours refer to situations in which there is an increased risk of transmission of HIV and/or other infections such as STIs for the patient or for their partners (e.g. unsafe penetrative sex).

Your role as a Health Extension Practitioner consists in promoting positive living practises for PLHIV in the community. In doing so, you will maintain the continuity of care patients receive from the health centres and hospitals at the level of their own community. Your role in supporting PLHIV to practise positive living includes the following key tasks:

  • Becoming familiar with different aspects of positive living, as you may need to provide information to patients about them.
  • Understanding what ‘positive living’ means for PLHIV. Positive living includes many topics that can help a person living with HIV to live a healthier life, and postpone progression to AIDS.
  • You may provide referrals, if necessary, to guide patients to services that will help them live positively. These services might be available at healthcare service delivery points, or other social and economic support organisations existing in your community.

The points listed in Box 29.1 should form the basis of your discussions with PLHIV to promote the adoption of positive living practises. In the following sections we will be discussing these specific issues in more detail.

Box 29.1  Points of discussion for advising PLHIV on positive living practises

  1. Prevent the spread of HIV.
  2. Be informed about your health.
  3. Take medications as prescribed by the healthcare worker.
  4. Work as your energy allows.
  5. Avoid stress.
  6. Maintain good nutrition.
  7. Prevent infections.
  8. Get regular exercise.
  9. Seek regular medical care.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 29

29.2  PLHIV and prevention of HIV transmission