Caring for Someone Who Is Near Death 309
At some point there is nothing more that can be done to treat
a person with AIDS. You may know this time has come when:
• the body starts to fail.
• medical treatment is no longer effective or is not available.
• the person says she is ready to die.
If the sick person wants to remain at home, you can help her
die with dignity by:
• giving comfort.
• having family and friends stay with her.
• allowing her to make decisions.
• helping her prepare for death. It may
help her to talk about death, about
fears of dying, and about worries for
the family’s future. It does not help
to act as if she is not dying. Assure
her that you will do what you can to
prevent pain and discomfort.
Talk about funeral arrangements
if she wishes.
As she nears death, she may be unconscious,
stop eating, breathe very slowly or very fast
and unevenly, stop passing urine, or lose
control of passing urine or stool.
Care of the body of someone who has died of AIDS
HIV can live up to 24 hours in a person’s body after death. During that time, take
the same precautions with the body as when the person was alive (see page 295).
HIV is everyone’s problem
It is important that everyone in the community know how HIV
is spread and how to prevent it. But this information will not help
them unless they also realize that HIV infection can happen to
anyone—even them. If people think that HIV and AIDS cannot
touch them, they will not act to prevent infection.
Placing the blame on any group of people (such as sex
workers, homosexuals, or drug users) suggests that only that
group is at risk. It is true that some people, like sex workers,
may be more likely to get HIV (because their work requires that
they have sex with many men). On the other hand, sex workers
may be less at risk because they may use condoms with all their
customers. In fact everyone—especially young women—is at
risk for HIV. And every person in the community needs to take
responsibility for fighting it.
We need to fight against the conditions that lead to the spread
of HIV, and not against the people who have HIV.
➤ Fight HIV, not the
people who have it.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012