Coping with illness can be stressful, not only for you, but also for the people around you - whether it’s your partner, friends or family. However there are support services and professionals available to help if you are in this situation.

If you are dealing with a lot of pain then your HIV clinic should be able to refer you to pain management or palliative care services. These people can work with you to find ways of relieving some of your pain or treatment side effects thereby improving your quality of life. You could also consider complementary or alternative therapies as some men find these helpful in managing pain or illness. You can read about complementary and alternative therapies in the section on HIV treatment.

Occupational Therapies
You should also be able to access occupational therapists available through your HIV clinic (and also through social services). Occupational therapists can offer help and advice in addressing your practical needs, for example help with problems you may have getting around your home.

Dealing with Illness
If you are having difficulties dealing with illness then discuss this with your HIV doctor. As well as those services mentioned above, there’s a whole range of other professionals who exist to help relieve the physical and psychological burden of being ill and improve the quality of your life. Don’t feel you have to just put up with any distress you’re in.

Living an independent life at home can become more difficult for some. Your local council will have a social services department which will be able to offer a wide range of social care in your own home.

Local Concil Matters
Your local council should be able to carry out an assessment of your needs to see what help you may be entitled to. These may include:

Direct payments scheme – if your council assesses that you need care and support services then you can choose direct payments. These allow you to shop around and arrange your own help instead of receiving it directly from social services.

Equipment for independent living – you may be entitled to help towards the cost of equipment to enable you to live independently in your own home, or towards the cost of getting standard home equipment adapted so that you can use it.

Independent Living Fund – payments from the Independent Living Fund help to support severely disabled people to enable them to live independently rather than in a care home. The money is for payment towards personal and domestic care. If you feel you may be entitled to social care then contact your local council. There should be information about this on your local council’s website.

In addition, there may be other benefits you are entitled to depending on your need.

If you are ill and cannot work then you should be entitled to welfare benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (which is replacing Incapacity Benefit), Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

If you have problems getting around then you may be entitled to help including the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, the Motability Scheme, a free travel card or bus pass, a Disabled Persons Blue Badge, Congestion Charge and Road Tax exemption, a free leisure pass for council sports centres and a Disabled Persons Railcard.

If you also have problems looking after or taking care of yourself then you may be entitled to the care component of Disability Living Allowance and your primary carer (whoever looks after you most of the time; maybe your partner) may be entitled to claim a Carer’s Allowance.