HIV in Canada: A primer for service providers

HIV as an Episodic Illness

Key Points

  • Most disability related to HIV is episodic.
  • Rehabilitation can support people with HIV through periods of episodic wellness and illness.

Since the introduction of effective HIV treatment, HIV is increasingly characterized as a chronic, manageable illness. Most disabilities related to HIV are episodic, meaning that HIV disease involves periods of wellness and periods of illness. The episodes of illness may occur on a daily basis or they may occur over extended periods of time, such as an HIV-related infection that results in a hospitalization.

Rehabilitation can be beneficial to people living with HIV in periods of wellness and illness. It supports people with HIV to manage health problems and provides support to enable them to continue living as independently as possible. Rehabilitation services include physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech-language therapy, and complementary or alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy and counselling.


HIV and rehabilitationManaging your health, CATIE's guide for people living with HIV

The Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation


  1. Canadian Working Group for HIV and Rehabilitation [CWGHR]. Available at: [accessed January 9, 2014]
  2. The Canadian Association for Occupational Therapy [CAOT]. Occupational therapy strategies for people living with HIV/AIDS. Available at: [accessed January 9, 2014]
  3. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. HIV/AIDS and Income Security. Available at: [accessed January 9, 2014]