HIV Positive Nurses

  1. Hello Everyone,

    I am an RN student , and I am doing a paper on HIV. I was hoping a few of you, or many, wouldnt mind commenting. Do you know another nurse with HIV? How does it effect staff issues, patient care, etc. Is there an extreme amount of bias, where Nurses with HIV are concerned? Have you witnessed any discrimination? How do hospitals generally feel about HIV positive caregivers? Have you cared for HIV positive patients? How did it make you feel? And please, please, please, if you are going to be rude please do not respond. I am trying to take a fact/opinion based approach, kind of like a poll. I am not interested in one's sexuality or mode of transmission. If anyone feels like commenting, it would be welcomed. Thank you so much in advance!
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   KaroSnowQueen
    I personally do not know any staff members with HIV. I don't know if I happen to not have been around any, or if my colleague keep it to themselves.
    However I have cared for several HIV/AIDS patients. I do not treat them any differently than I do any other patient.
    If there are a lot of body fluids, I do double glove, and depending on the circumstances wear a mask to prevent splashing. I use EXTRA care in giving injections since getting a dirty needle stick a couple of years ago (with a NON HIV patient).
    But my attitude toward them is no different. I don't know how they got AIDS and its none of my business, other than patient education re: advising others they are in "close" contact with.
    Actually I have had patients (and one friend with AIDS) who were more worried about my possible exposure than I was, in casual contact situations.
    And as with any patient who expresses concern about my getting what they have, I think its sweet, but try to reassure them that I am at no risk when I use proper precautions.
  4. by   JeepDudeRN
    Dear KaroSnowQueen-

    Thank you so much for a caring and professional reply. I can tell you are an excellent nurse. I was a bit leery of posting this, not knowing what to expect. Thank you again.
  5. by   txspadequeenRN
    I know one HIV + nurse . He is in direct care ,but to my knowledge has not disclosed this information to anyone he has worked for(other than me). I felt a little uneasy when I heard this (I cannot lie) because he is starting IV's, doing Blood Sugars and all the things that involve the body fluids. I really dont know how I feel about this situation. Now I have taken care of many HIV+ patients when I worked on the HIV floor and I treat them no different than any other patient..
  6. by   Myxel67
    I have taken care of many patients with HIV/AIDS. This was in the past when I worked on a floor that was half HIV/AIDS and half pulmonary. Taking care of AIDS pts can be heartbreaking, but is also very rewarding. First, you see many of the same pts over and over, and you follow the progress of the disease. It is amazing to see the differences in the patients with good support systems, and those whose family and friends have left them alone to deal with this terrible illness. One thing I did learn from working in this unit is that the grieving partner of someone dieing from AIDS complications is no different from the grieving husband or wife of another pt who is losing the battle against a terminal illness. I wonder what all the fuss is about and why people feel so threatened.

    One of the worst situations I saw was that of a nurse who had a living will in place. Her family went against her wishes and had a feeding tube (PEG) inserted. Hospitals tend to listen to those who can file suit.

    It has been several years since I worked on that unit. Just before I left, the HIV section was "officially" closed. In a press release the hospital stated that because of advances in HIV treatment, a dedicated unit was no longer warranted. HIV pts, they stated, were coming to the hospital less frequently and staying for shorter times. Most HIV patients were still sent to our floor because that's where ER was used to sending them.

    Some things I learned:

    A pt who has been in and out of the hospital frequently will learn how to unlock and adjust his own morphine drip.

    It is possible for a person to be walking and talking with H & H of 5 and 14%.

    It's extremely difficult to convince a mother that it's time to let her 21 year old son go.

    Family is what you make it--not what a society or government say it is.
  7. by   fetch33
    I know of one HIV positive nurse in the hospital where I work. He couldn't keep it a secret from management because he was admitted with complications. He was still in direct patient care last I heard.
  8. by   Joshman10090
    I wouldn't be scared of a nurse with HIV. I'd be scared of a nurse with TB! I mean really? Universal precautions.... everyone has HIV. Do you really think everyone who has it knows? Bah. I read somewhere that every time a nurse takes an HIV+ patient he/she had six others and never knew. Be afraid all the time of everyone! Don't be mean to the people who got tested! I am glad when someone knows.
    And as far as a nurse to patient transmission? Highly unlikely a nurse would stab themselves and then use the needle. What about hep patients? Nurses passing around germs on their hands is exponentially more deadly. Wash your hands a little longer instead of feeling uneasy about your coworkers. Geeez.
  9. by   island40
    I have taken care of clients with TB, HIV, drug withdrawal and lots of other "controversial" health conditions. I think I treat them like any other client. If they are on the call light all the time by the end of the shift it takes me a little longer to get to their room just like any other pain in the a$$. If they have a relative who is major helpful I thank them and tell them how much of a difference this makes. I also make sure I use UP every time and if something unexpected happens (I've gotten a needle stick from a HIV + client in for PCPneu) I do the paperwork to mitigate the impact. I don't have HBV, HIV, and have been treated for TB exposure during the past 16 years. I love my job and it is no more my place to judge a person who gets HIV than it is for me to judge a person who gets DM because of their lifestyle.
  10. by   nathuladula
    i am about to start working my second job as an lpn in a descrete unit hiv unit i dont know how it will be and im kinda scared, i was going to totally refuse the job but i really need to work and i am hoping thay i can handle this and also i hope this wont be too much for me to handle because i only worked in a small ambulatory center before this. i dont have that much experience.... so any advice? from anyone?
  11. by   carolinapooh
    I am more afraid of taking care of a TB patient than an AIDS/HIV patient. I have a greater chance of contracting TB than HIV from casual contact!

    And as for staff members, I would just be happy that they were still able to work and keep their health insurance intact. Chances are that I've already worked with an HIV positive person and I don't know it.
  12. by   jrsmrs
    I think if this hypothetical nurse is using the proper precautions, there should be no issue as there would be no mode of transmission from nurse to patient.
    My first thought was the risk to the nurse of coming into contact with all the illnesses in a clinical setting, which could be potentially life-threatening given their immune-compromised status.
  13. by   WendyBensonRN
    In 1999 I was drawing my own labs on an HIV infected patient and he became physically aggressive. The needle slipped and I was stuck. Talk about scary times! I underwent blood work for 10 years. In the psych field, we have several HIV positive patients. 9 times out of 10, we won't know unless the patient is upfront about their illness. I have never (that I know of) worked with an HIV infected nurse.
  14. by   samirish
    Quote from WendyBensonRN
    In 1999 I was drawing my own labs on an HIV infected patient and he became physically aggressive. The needle slipped and I was stuck. Talk about scary times! I underwent blood work for 10 years. In the psych field, we have several HIV positive patients. 9 times out of 10, we won't know unless the patient is upfront about their illness. I have never (that I know of) worked with an HIV infected nurse.
    God that sounds like a nightmare situation! Glad you ended up being alright.

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