HIV Social Care Coordinator, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
Introduction: caring for ourselves and each other
Since the start of the HIV pandemic medical and allied health professionals have worked in partnership with people living with HIV to ensure that care was person-centred and reflective of their needs. Over the past 30 years, HIV treatment and the care offered by healthcare professionals has changed dramatically. It is well documented that having HIV has changed from a life-limiting condition to a chronic manageable one with significant improvements in health outcomes. Despite these changes in the HIV care paradigm, receiving a diagnosis of HIV and living with a stigmatising illness is still a complex phenomenon requiring person-centred support by healthcare professionals [1–3]. In our daily professional lives we have advocated and supported people who may have complex health and social care needs. Within our work we listen to many different stories relating to an individual’s diagnosis and the subsequent trauma they may experience. As HIV is a long-term condition this inevitably means we walk alongside the people we are working with for many years, and, in some cases, as healthcare professionals we are the only avenue of support they feel able to accept owing to stigma from the wider society.