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2.3 – What is the impact of HIV on body systems and why does this matter for rehabilitation providers?

HIV is a complex and multi-system disease that causes a range of conditions that can affect almost every body system. However, antiretroviral therapy has contributed to HIV-positive people living longer and having better quality of life.

Despite these improvements, Van As et al. (2009)2 found that physical impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions have had a negative effect on people living with HIV.  They highlighted the need for rehabilitation providers to have detailed knowledge of the effects of HIV on the patient so that appropriate interventions can be made. They recommend the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF),3 developed by the World Health Organization, as a useful framework for evaluating impairments and life-related challenges resulting from HIV and HIV-related conditions (see Section 3 to learn more about HIV-related disability).

Examples of diagnoses affecting different body systems in people living with HIV

Examples of diagnoses affecting different body systems

2Van AS, Myezwa H, Stewart A, Maleka D, Musenge E. The International Classification of Function Disability and Health (ICF) in adults visiting the HIV outpatient clinic at a regional hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. AIDS Care. 2009;21:50-8.

3World Health Organization: International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) – Geneva. 2011. http://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en.

4Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Global report: UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013. November 2013 http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/documents/2013/name,85053,en.asp

5United Nations. (2012). UNAIDS Regional Fact Sheet, 2012. http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/2012_FS_regional_ssa_en.pdf

6Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Global report: UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013. November 2013 http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/documents/2013/name,85053,en.asp

7Gatali M, Archibald CP. Women's Health Surveillance Report: A Multi-dimensional Look at the Health of Canadian Women. Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2003. https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/CPHI_WomensHealth_e.pdf.