Background Nurse-client interaction when providing nursing services is limited to optimizing treatment and self-care, with limited focus on the psychological problems of people living with HIVAIDS. However, psychological problems manifest more often than the health risks of the disease itself. This study aimed to determine the emotional response of people living with HIVAIDS who received limited attention from nurses from the perspective of nurse-client relationship. Patients and methods A phenomenological qualitative design was used through in-depth face-to-face interviews in a semi-structured manner, in an effort to obtain complete data. This research used purposive sampling with Participatory Interpretative Phenomenology analysis, involving 22 participants (14 males and 8 females). Results This research produces several themes, with six subcategories: 1) Difficulty of social access, 2) Forcing to accept their situation and suppressing their will, 3) Wanting to be recognized like other people in general, 4) Social stigma and self-stigmatization affecting surroundings, 5) Lacking enthusiasm for life expectancy, 6) Always lingering under the shadow "when death picks up."Conclusion The results showed that mental stress was experienced more than physical problems by people living with HIV-AIDS, thus prompting new changes to nursing services for HIV-AIDS patients that emphasize psychosocial aspects, in addition to clinical features, facilitated by satisfying relationships between nurses and clients to provide quality services.