You know better than anyone that living with HIV presents many challenges.
You may be experiencing various physical, mental or social problems. Perhaps there are activities you can no longer participate in or which you can no longer do.
You may not think of these as “disabilities”. Most people think of disabilities as permanent physical conditions such as a spinal cord injury that results in paralysis or cerebral palsy. But in the world of rehabilitation, disability is a much broader concept.
A disability is something that interferes with meaningful, active living. Disabilities fall into three categories:
- physical or mental problems e.g., pain, fatigue, diarrhea, numbness or tingling, reduced sex drive (libido), decreased memory
- difficulties with activities e.g., walking, climbing stairs, carrying groceries, standing for a long period of time or taking a bath, and
- participation restrictions e.g., difficulty working, participating in social activities or relationships.
The disabilities related to HIV are often episodic – they come and go. You have probably experienced this. You have periods of good health and then times when you are ill. And you have no way of knowing how you will feel from day to day or week to week, what kinds of “disabilities” you’ll experience, or how long they will last.
That’s why HIV is often considered an episodic disability.