Words by Matthew Collis
It is important to remember those lost in the battle against HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), and as a result I thought I would take the time to write a small piece on HIV and its importance to me personally as a student nurse.
HIV has infected 78 million people worldwide and has killed 39 million people since the start of the epidemic, currently it is estimated that 35 million people are living with HIV globally. In the United Kingdom around 100,000 people are living with HIV at this time, 20% of those people do not know that they are infected.
I became interested in HIV when I nursed a patient on placement who had acquired the infection, I was saddened by nurses and other people’s attitudes to his diagnosis and heard the phrase “make sure you double glove guys” too many times. To combat this I decided to be proactive about the situation and research HIV guidelines, then upon hearing the discrimination against the patient I brought up this research to change people’s attitudes, using evidence to inform my practice. For anyone interested, briefly, to treat someone with HIV in terms of infection control there are no special precautions, all precautions are universal because as previously stated 20,000 people in the UK do not know that they are infected. The route of transmission for HIV are as follows: Sexual contact with someone who is HIV positive (vaginal, rectal or penile tissue, not oral), direct injection with a HIV infected device such as a needle or blood product, from mother to foetus in utero or via breastfeeding. Therefore myths such as a practitioner should wear gloves when doing things that do not involve needles or bodily fluids should be strongly discouraged.
This covers a small amount of information around HIV and my personal interest in it, I hope it shows how if you see something you don’t like in practice that you can be proactive in facing the situation however this does obviously not apply to all scenarios that you might find yourself in and you may want to seek advice from your academic advisor.
On the 1st of December 2015 GAY bar in Manchester will be testing for HIV, if 1000 people get tested at the location between 11 am and 8pm then GAY will donate £10,000 to the Elton John AIDS foundation. So I urge you to go and get tested on that day, it is a rapid test not a full blood test so it is just a finger prick, the test takes on average 3 minutes in which time you will have effectively donated £10 to charity.The links and references below offer some more guidance into HIV, please respond if you want me to provide you with further information or another article on HIV testing, treatments and prevention strategies.
George House Trust. (2014). HIV Info. Available: http://www.ght.org.uk. Last accessed 27/11/15.
HIV Aware. (2015). HIV Statistics UK. Available: http://www.hivaware.org.uk/facts-myths/hiv-statistics. Last accessed 27/11/15.
Nursing Midwifery Council (2015). The Code: Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics for Nurses and Midwives. London: United Kingdom: Nursing Midwifery Council.
World Health Organisation [WHO]. (2015). WHO | HIV/AIDS. Available: http://www.who.int/gho/hiv/en/. Last accessed 27/11/15.