HIV/AIDS Education: Still an Important Issue for Veterinarians

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SYNOPSISHuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a significant cause of immunosuppression that puts infected individuals at higher risk for developing severe complications from zoonotic infections and other animal-related hazards. The number of people living with HIV grows each year, assuring that veterinary practitioners will have clients and/or employees who are afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Veterinarians need to better understand HIV/AIDS for many reasons: to dispel unfounded beliefs; to address discrimination and liability issues; to educate and protect the health of clients and employees; to help those with HIV/AIDS keep their pets; and to meet legal and professional requirements. To do this, veterinarians must become proactive in learning about HIV/AIDS and in reaching out to pet owners living with HIV/AIDS, as well as the physicians of those individuals. Through discussion on historical and contemporary issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, this article examines why veterinarians need to better understand HIV/AIDS, advocates for more time in the veterinary curriculum on the topic of HIV/AIDS, and provides resources for veterinarians and their clients.

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