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HIV/AIDS - what you need to know

HIV is a chronic medical condition, much like diabetes, heart disease, or emphysema. Yet HIV and AIDS have a stigma associated with them that is rarely seen with other illnesses. People with HIV and AIDS are often judged or blamed for their condition. Many are concerned that an HIV positive status will lead to alienation from friends or family, stigmatisation from colleagues or the community, and the loss of a job or home.

These fears and concerns can make people hesitant to approach health care providers or talk to them about their health concerns. This brings additional challenges to nursing. Understanding the unique issues surrounding HIV and AIDS will help you meet this challenge.

This is not an exhaustive resource on HIV - we don’t expect you to become an expert, nor do you need to. Instead, this learning programme provides some general guidance and up-to-date information, as well as a list of resources you can access, or direct others to, that provide more detailed information.

Improved drug therapies have changed HIV infection from being the death sentence it was twenty five years ago to the chronic medical condition it is today. But the stigma attached to HIV isn’t moving as fast. So, what can you do?  The first step is to learn more.