nursing and midwifery - text

Module 2 - Living with HIV

Learning outcomes

After completing this module you will have a better understanding of:

  • The impact of interactions with health care professionals
  • Confidentiality
  • HIV and stigma
  • Culturally sensitive care
  • Fatherhood and HIV


  •  An HIV diagnosis can be a shocking life changing experience requiring considerable adaptation to life. However, the introduction of effective treatment has changed HIV from a life threatening condition to a chronic illness
  • Two types of meaning in chronic illness have been described as the ‘consequences’ and ‘significance’ for the individual (Bury, 1982). The consequence refers to the management of illness in everyday life, such as adhering to medication and managing symptoms of side effects of medication. The significance refers to the symbolic significance of particular conditions and can have a profound influence on how individuals see themselves and their perceptions of how others see them
  • Even after 30 years, with an increased understanding of the transmission of HIV and life changing advances in treatment possibilities, a perception of stigma continues to dominate the symbolic significance of HIV, presenting particular challenges for people living with HIV, especially in respect of deciding who, and who not to disclose their status to
  • In addition, pregnancy is a life changing event in itself, and is a time for the woman and her partner to prepare for transition to parenthood, therefore the psychological impact of HIV diagnosis during pregnancy is likely to be more severe as she (and her partner) have to digest this new information at a time when she should be happily preparing to bring a new life into the world