chapter  4
The Impact of HIV Infection on Partners and Relatives
ByBarbara Hedge
Pages 24

HIV disease does not only impact on the infected person; there is evidence that partners, family members and other close individuals are also affected, often negatively. Interestingly, most of the studies on partners and families of people with HIV disease report the effects on the ‘caregivers’, automatically assigning to partners and families a role usually associated with the care of the very young, the infirm or the elderly. However, many people infected with HIV are well for many years, so the psychological impact may begin before and last longer than any physical caregiving. Powell-Cope (1995) found that in couples where one person had HIV, both partners perceived infection as causing a major life transition as both were confronted by multiple losses, including the possible death of the person with HIV and hence the relationship, the loss of health, independence, intimacy and privacy. Partners or relatives may also have to cope with stress relating to the stigma attached to homophobia or illegal drug use.