HIV/AIDS is an auto-immune disease that debilitates the body, affecting its ability to heal properly or fight off infections. At the end of 2018, the Congressional Research Service reported that 38 million people were living with HIV/AIDS, including 2.1 million children younger than 15 years old.
Due to the disease’s prevalence, health care organizations and governments have spent billions of dollars searching for a cure while also seeking better ways to treat patients dealing with the disease.
One way to address the issue is to develop a new field of nurses known as AIDS nurses.
In this blog post, we will cover the following:
- What is an AIDS nurse?
- What do AIDS nurses do?
- How do I become a certified HIV/AIDS nurse?
- How much money do AIDS nurses make?
What is an AIDS nurse?
An AIDS nurse provides care for patients suffering from various stages of HIV and AIDS. These nurses not only act as caregivers, but they also serve as educators and patient advocates.
If you’re considering becoming an AIDS nurse, you should make sure to discard any prejudices you have about the disease at the hospital door. It takes a particular type of person to work in this field.
The disease impacts a wide variety of our population. For example, you may find yourself helping someone who contracted the disease from their partner, a needle, or even a child who acquired it from their mother during birth.
What do AIDS Nurses do?
As an AIDS nurse, you will find yourself wearing many different hats. With newly diagnosed HIV patients, the AIDS nurse will perform the following functions:
- Assess patient for risk factors related to lifestyle
- Inform patient on the disease process
- Provide emotional support and counseling services
- Instruct patients on treatment options
After the initial diagnostic phase, HIV/AIDS patients undergo highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). This treatment involves the use of antiretroviral drugs which are highly effective. According to the National Institutes of Health, HAART therapy has resulted in an effective patient response 80-90% of the time.
There are drawbacks to the treatment. Patients report severe nausea, hyperglycemia, unusual weight gain, and liver toxicity. Due to the symptoms, some patients opt to skip doses. Skipping doses can adversely impact the patient. These patients risk the virus creating resistant strains that are harder to treat.
Often, AIDS nurses have to help with secondary infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and common colds. These secondary infections can lead to death so it’s essential to monitor the patient.
AIDS nurses also educate patients and their loved ones about the disease and the necessary steps to keep themselves and others safe. An AIDS nurse must also have a firm resolve as they often experience death on the job.
How do I become a certified HIV/AIDS nurse?
To become an AIDS nurse, you must first have an undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Additionally, you must have an active registered nurse (RN) license. To obtain your RN license, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN license examination.
After passing the exam, you need to accumulate at least 200 hours of training at the HIV/AIDS level before seeking certification known as the AIDS Certified Registered Nursing Examination (ACRN).
The ACRN will measure your ability to cope with the job’s varying emotional and physical demands as an AIDS nurse.
How much do AIDS nurses make?
The earning potential for AIDS nurses depends on experience, education, and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the typical salary for an AIDS registered nurse is $80,010 a year. The typical wage for an AIDS advanced practice registered nurse is $117,670.
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Additionally, some AIDS nurses are eligible for overtime pay and bonuses.
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