What is palliative and terminal care?

Palliative care is the care given to patients who cannot be cured of their illness. It addresses the physical, emotional and psychological needs of the child and family. Because HIV infection is incurable, palliative care starts when HIV infection is first diagnosed and continues for the duration of the illness. Emotional and spiritual support is also important. The aim of palliative care in children is to achieve the best quality of life for the child and family.

Terminal care is the care given to children in the last stages of AIDS. Pain management is an essential part of terminal care. Terminal care is best provided at home (home-based care) by a multi-disciplinary team of nurses, doctors, social workers and members of the community. It should be compassionate and patient-centred (what is best for the patient). The Hospice movement has greatly improved the quality of terminal care both at home and in institutions.

Palliative care includes terminal care. During the final stages of the disease the aim shifts to keeping the patient comfortable with love and dignity, relieving distress, limiting or reducing the duration of any hospital admissions, and providing the family with additional support.

Palliative care starts when HIV infection is first diagnosed and continues for the duration of the illness.

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