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The rising number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) worldwide has made health care professionals and policy makers search for accessible health care that will meet the needs of people who are suffering from the disease and enhance their quality of life (QoL).This study investigated met and unmet palliative care needs of PLWHA in selected areas in Rwanda.The study sample included 306 participants: PLWHA, health care professionals and coordinators of HIV/AIDS units. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used.The data were analysed separately and then triangulated. In the findings, over 50% of PLWHA had symptoms related to HIV/AIDS most of the time, with the most common symptom being pain. Participation in activities of daily living was significantly associated with the health status of PLWHA (p<0.001).The most common perceived palliative care needs of PLWHA were medical needs, psychosocial needs and the need for financial assistance (77%); home-based care (47%); nutritional support (44%); and pain relief and management of other symptoms (43%). Most PLWHA indicated these palliative care needs were unmet, in particular the need for pain relief, symptom management, financial assistance and nutritional support. Over 50% of health care professionals reported they were not trained in palliative care.They indicated that inadequate policy and resources were the main obstacles to the provision of optimal palliative care.Addressing unmet palliative care needs would enhance the QoL of PLWHA. In addition, developing policy related to the provision of palliative care and building the capacity of health care providers is essential for the provision of adequate palliative care services in Rwanda.
SAHARA J Vol. 4 (1) 2007: pp. 575-585