Care Tips For A Loved One With HIV

HIV can lead to a variety of related complications. Here are a few simple steps to take to avoid problems.


  • Bedsores or other broken skin can be serious problems for someone with AIDS.
  • Use extra-soft material (sheepskin, “egg crate” foam, or water mattresses) under the person for whom you are caring.
  • Keep the sheets dry and free from wrinkles.
  • Massage your loved one’s back and other parts of his or her body (like hips, elbows, and ankles) that press down on the bed. Report any red or broken areas on the skin to a doctor or nurse right away.


Even in bed, a person can do simple arm, hard, leg, and foot exercises. These are usually called “range of motion” exercises. These movements help prevent stiff, sore joints and help to keep the blood moving. A doctor, nurse, or physical therapist can show you how to help your loved one exercise.


If someone is having trouble breathing, sitting upright may help. Raise the head of a hospital-type bed or use extra pillows or some other soft back support. If your loved one has severe trouble breathing, contact a doctor.


A good backrub can help your loved one relax as well as helping his or her circulation. A nurse, physical therapist, or book on massage can give tips on how to give a good backrub. Put books, remote controls, water, tissues, and a bell to call for help within easy reach of your loved one. If your loved one can’t get up, also put a urinal or bedpan easily within reach.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Caring for Someone with AIDS at Home: A Guide, ACTIS Publication No. D817, prepared by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, AIDS Clinical Trial Information Service.

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