“I’m HIV positive, I’m sick, I will have pain and that’s that kind of acceptance of pain and they don’t bring it up.”
A stigmatizing disease with a stigmatizing symptom.
A symptom that has been largely ignored by those involved in setting the research and treatment agendas for HIV/AIDS. In the 30 years since AIDS was “discovered, (see AIDS at 30; Reflections of a Palliative Care Physician), it has been an uphill battle to get HIV associated pain on the agenda of the major HIV Medical meetings. Dr Gwyther did give a plenary at the Vienna World AIDS meeting in 2010. Yes 2010!!!
Palliative care physicians have worked hard to provide the appropriate management for their patients with pain but were unable to because of poor opioid availability especially in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The AIDS crisis and the associated under treatment of pain has highlighted the problem of poor opioid availability throughout Low and Middle income countries. In fact before the recently identification of the global threat of non-communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS was often the driving force.
But a driving force largely ignored by those at the wheel.
Whether it is HIV, cancer or diabetes, the global community needs to recognize the importance of pain relief and ensure the provision of morphine, a WHO essential drug, to the people of the world.