Living a Healthy Life with HIV, 4th edition, by Allison Webel, RN, PhD, Allen L. Gifford, MD, Kate Lorig DrPH, et. Al
More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection today, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2013 alone, approximately 47,352 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with the HIV infection. But HIV is no longer a death sentence: over the past two decades, the prognosis has radically improved, and many can expect to have a normal lifespan. For those living with HIV, what matters most of all is self-management — and just how to tackle that is the subject of the latest edition of Living a Healthy Life with HIV.
To call this book comprehensive is an understatement: its authors — The authors — Allison Webel, RN, PhD, Allen L. Gifford, MD, Kate Lorig DrPH and four more — were all part of a research and development team at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Patient Education Research Center in California. Their benchmark approach to managing life with HIV was the result of decades of research, which clearly showed that patients who take responsibility for their own care and treatment fare better than those who don’t. In essence, since you’re the one living with this day-to-day, you’re the only one who can control its outcome, assert the authors. In this 4th edition of this landmark tome — first published in 1996 — they’ve outlined all the ways to make it happen, updated according to the latest medical guidelines, medications, and protocols.
The approach is anything but clinical, however: this is a book that feels like part serious, practical advice and part life coach; it’s upbeat in tone and supportive of the many facets of dealing with HIV. There are chapters on everything from tackling opportunistic infections to collaborating with your health care team; from how to approach sex and pregnancy (not if, but how) to how to make treatment decisions. There’s a clear explanation of the cycle of symptoms, and invaluable strategies for handling and juggling medications — presented with illuminating clarity but plenty of detail.
Even the everyday requirements of life itself can be a burden, as the authors understand. So they emphasize the need to find balance, lower stress, deal with stigmas, relate to loved ones (and everyone else as well), and also, make plans for the future. The takeaway is that Living a Healthy Life with HIV is a book for people who have HIV, as opposed to people whose lives have been ruined by the illness. Yes, living with HIV takes work, the authors write, but it’s well worth the effort. Armed with the author’s strategies, enlightened by their knowledge, and bolstered by their compassion, readers may feel a renewed sense of hope and empowerment, as they should.