In this section, we will be describing the clinical signs and symptoms associated with common opportunistic clinical manifestations that you may encounter in PLHIV during community visits, or at your health post. Where possible, we have included photographs showing typical clinical manifestations of an opportunistic disease in a PLHIV, so that you become familiar with them.
Identifying opportunistic infections and diseases will help your work in the context of PLHIV in two ways. First, you may be able to categorise patients in one of the four stages of the WHO HIV clinical staging. You will then be able to refer them to the nearest health centre for comprehensive HIV services, such as cotrimoxazole chemoprophylaxis (used for prevention of opportunistic infections, explained in Section 21.6), and for specific treatments for HIV/AIDS. In some cases, you will need to refer the person living with HIV urgently, whereas in others you will just need to reassure the patient, and/or treat minor ailments. Note that all conditions described below should be referred to the nearest health centre if they are clinical stage 2 and above, with increasing urgency the higher the WHO clinical stage.
Secondly, if staging has been carried out by a health worker at a health centre or hospital, you will be able to appreciate at what stage of the disease a person living with HIV is, and provide the best possible care for that patient.