“I have failed to separate my HIV from this pain”

8th February 2021

Pain is a highly prevalent and burdensome symptom among people with HIV. Researchers based at the Cicely Saunders Institute have published the results of a study to identify how the experience of living with HIV and chronic pain influences pain beliefs, health-seeking behaviours and pain management.

Thirty-nine people with HIV with chronic pain participated in focus groups in London. Transcripts were analysed using a thematic approach.

HIV stigma, a lack of co-ordinated care, and general practitioners’ lack of HIV training are barriers to managing pain successfully. Unaddressed pain results in poorer mental health and reduced quality of life. This has important clinical implications for HIV treatment adherence.

Creating HIV-specific pain resources, activating social networks, and pain self-management techniques are potential solutions. The researchers concluded that person-centred assessment and HIV training are needed to help clinicians identify people with HIV with chronic pain. Clear guidelines need to be developed to identify which health service providers are responsible for chronic pain management in people with HIV.

Baker V, Nkhoma K, Trevelion R, Roach A, Winston A, Sabin C, Bristowe K, Harding R. “I have failed to separate my HIV from this pain”: the challenge of managing chronic pain among people with HIV. AIDS Care. 2021 Jan 14:1-9. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2020.1869148. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33443450.