LIFE Before Death #8: HIV/AIDS Pain

2011 July 9
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Short Film 8 of 50 in the LIFE Before Death documentary series about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life changing affect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.

In HIV/AIDS Pain we discover that HIV/AIDS can be an extremely painful condition and that a crisis exists in delivering essential life-saving medicines to patients in need.

Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa) explains; “We’ve found in the bigger AIDS meetings, and in the AIDS research agenda where the money is going to, that there’s very little interest in pain relief in HIV.”

We learn that in South Africa one in three adults have HIV, that’s over 5 million people who are HIV positive in that country alone.

Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa) states; “Patients themselves think: ‘Well, I’m HIV positive, I sick, I will have pain’ and there’s that acceptance of pain so they don’t bring it up.”

We meet HIV/AIDS patient NIni (South Africa) who says that her pain alone landed her in hospital and threatened her life. “The pain was so unbearable.”

Palliative Care Nurse Keletso Mmoledi reveals that Nini’s pain has now been successfully controlled using antidepressants and opioids such as morphine.

Dr Natalya Dinat speaks of the consequences of untreated pain; “We know that first of all people can’t go to work or they take days off work. With HIV neuropathy, which is pain in the feet and happens long before people require antiretrovirals, people might find it difficult to walk, they might miss their clinic visits… They might not be able to get to the clinic to get their antiretrovirals which means they’re going to die. It’s as profound as that.”

“The medication — I think that is why I’m still alive,” reflects Nini. “Other people I know didn’t want to take the tablets… Now they’re no longer here. They’re gone.”

Featuring Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa), Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa), Nurse Keletso Mmoledi (South Africa), Nini (South Africa).

If you’ve missed previous episodes, catch up on the LIFE Before Death website…

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