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close this bookWhere Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)
close this folderChapter 17: AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsWhat Are HIV and AIDS?
View the documentWhy HIV and AIDS Are Different for Women
View the documentPreventing HIV/AIDS
View the documentThe HIV Test
View the documentLiving Positively with HIV and AIDS
View the documentPregnancy, Childbirth, and Breastfeeding
Open this folder and view contentsCare for Persons with AIDS
View the documentStaying Healthy for as Long as Possible
Open this folder and view contentsCommon Medical Problems
View the documentCaring for Someone Who Is Near Death
Open this folder and view contentsWorking for Change

Caring for Someone Who Is Near Death

At some point there is nothing more that can be done for a person with AIDS. You may know this time has come when:

· the body starts to fail.
· medical treatment is no longer effective or is not available.
· the person says she is ready to die.

If the sick person wants to remain at home, you can help her die with dignity by:

· giving comfort.
· having family and friends stay with her.
· allowing her to make decisions.
· helping her prepare for death. It may help her to talk about death, about fears of dying, and about worries for the family’s future. It does not help to act as if she is not dying. Assure her that you will do what you can to prevent pain and discomfort. Talk about funeral arrangements if she wishes.


As she nears death, she may be unconscious, stop eating, breathe very slowly or very fast and unevenly, stop passing urine, or lose control of passing urine or stool.

Care of the body of someone who has died of AIDS

The AIDS virus can live up to 24 hours in a person’s body after death. During that time, take the same precautions with the body as you did when the person was alive.