30.3.1  Support for the patient

PLHIV often feel unhappy, and even depressed at times. They will be calmer if they accept the illness as much as they are able to, and realise that it is possible to live a healthy life and be productive if they take their medication correctly. You can help by introducing them to a nearby PLHIV association, or a community-based organisation which provides support to PLHIV (if available).

Psychosocial support for PLHIV should also address practical aspects of care, such as finances, housing, and assistance with daily living. Regarding spiritual support, you may want to discuss spiritual beliefs, cultural issues and personal values. The following tips will help you to provide spiritual support to patients:

  • Be prepared to discuss spiritual matters if patients would like to. Some useful questions you may use are:
    • What is important to you in life?
    • What helps you through difficult times?
    • Do you have a faith that helps you make sense of life?
    • Do you ever pray?
  • Learn to listen with empathy.
  • Understand reactions to the losses in their life (the different stages of grief).
  • Be prepared to ‘absorb’ some reactions, for example, patients may express anger towards you, but this is only because they are afraid and anxious.
  • Connect the patient’s needs with a spiritual counsellor or religious leader, according to their religion and wishes.
  • Do not impose your own views. If you share religious beliefs, praying together may be appropriate.
  • For some patients, it is better to talk about the meaning of their life, rather than directly about spirituality or religion.

30.3  Psychosocial and spiritual support

30.3.2  Support for the caregivers