Focused review: Physiatric management of HIV-related disability
Since 1981, the epidemic of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), due to infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has grown and challenged health care providers in the United States. Although the total number of AIDS cases diagnosed each year appears to be reaching a plateau, cases attributable to heterosexual transmission are rising. With improved treatment, survival of persons with HIV infection is expected to increase; this change suggests that the prevalence of HIV-related physical disability will also increase. This article outlines the pathophysiology and systemic manifestations of HIV infection. The more common neuromuscular and neurological complications at each stage of the disease are presented, and appropriate rehabilitation interventions are discussed. The indications for aerobic exercise in persons with HIV infection and the approach to disability management in pediatric HIV infection are presented. Psychosocial considerations related to access to rehabilitations services, discrimination on the basis of HIV infection or membership in HIV risk behavior groups, and vocational rehabilitation are discussed. The review concludes that rehabilitation interventions in persons with HIV infection are based on functional deficits, rather than disease processes, suggesting that a general physiatric fund of knowledge should be adequate to manage most HIV disability.