This paper examines the concept of loss in the lives of people with HIV/AIDS. The paper beings with a discussion of why it is important to look at the concept of loss in this population. This is followed by a brief review of the literature on the experiences of loss in HIV/AIDS populations. The next section of the review examines current therapeutic strategies being used to help HIV/AIDS patients deal with issues of loss and grief; and the final section of the review examines the efficacy of therapeutic efforts in helping these patients to successfully resolve grief- and loss-related challenges and issues.
On a worldwide basis, it is estimated that there are now some 30 million people living with HIV---about one in every 100 adults in the sexually active ages of 15 to 49 worldwide (AIDS Education and Research Trust (AVERT), 1997). Globally, 11.7 million have died from this disease since the beginning of the epidemic (AVERT, 1997). While the majority of deaths have occurred in the developing world, in America, AIDS remains a serious problem. Since 1981, 633,000 adults and 385,968 children and adolescents have died of AIDS for a total of 1,018,968 people (AVERT, 1997).
According to Gallagher and Sosnov (1995), loss is one of the pivotal feelings that people living with HIV/AIDS must deal with. In many cases, not only are people with AIDS living with all of the personal losses attendant to having a terminal disease, they also have lost friends and loved ones to the disease. Marriages have ended and people have lost their jobs as a result of contracting AIDS. Indeed, in most cases, the authors report, HIV/AIDS is truly a multiple loss experience.
Gallagher and Sosnov (1995) also report that almost every kind of therapeutic effort and strategy that has been developed and implemented to help people cope with HIV/AIDS contains components and elements designed to assist with psychoemotional and psychosocial experiences relat...