Challenges to Nurses in taking care of HIV-positive Patients

HIV is a virus that affects the human immune system and causes a disease known as AIDS. There is no effective treatment for the illness that can completely eradicate it but some treatment modalities can reduce the symptoms, however, a patient needs to live with the virus for their whole life. Although proper care at the hospital is necessary, nurses have some challenges in taking care of the patients, leading to the spread of the virus and the failure of the treatment.

HIV spread from sexual contact, needles, using used shaving blades, and blood transfusion that attacks the immune system which results in Acute Kidney Injury/Chronic kidney Injury, Pneumonia, Sepsis, Septic encephalopathy, and many more severe conditions. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day. When a patient admits to a hospital, there are multiple barriers that hinder the patient’s care and treatment at the hospital. Researches show nurses have challenges HIV positive because of many reasons.  The assigned nurses have a fear of getting an infection. They avoid caring for these patients because they are fearful that they might be infected by these patients.

Moreover, they believe that the standard infection control protocols are effective again in the prevention of HIV. Furthermore, they have misconceptions regarding medical care for people living with HIV and AIDS. In addition to this, they are fearful of secondary stigmatization, i.e. They think that if people in a community come to know he had taken care of HIV patients, so he will be stigmatized. Besides these, they have moral sentences toward these patients and have negative associations related to HIV. For instance, they think these patients are positive because they might have sexual relations with multiple partners. These beliefs and attitudes of nurses lead to improper and incomplete treatment and care of HIV-positive patients (Abdelrahman et al., 2015).

The cure and care of HIV-positive patients is a challenge for nurses. Special training should be provided to them to reduce their fears and misbeliefs regarding HIV patients and improve their knowledge with evidence-based authentic information. Nurses should be educated that HIV can be prevented by following the infection control protocols made for HIV. This will ultimately affect the attitudes of nurses positively and will have better outcomes for HIV patients.


Abdelrahman, I., Lohiniva, A. L., Kandeel, A., Benkirane, M., Atta, H., Saleh, H., . . . Talaat, M. (2015). Learning about barriers to care for people living with HIV in Egypt: a qualitative exploratory study. Journal of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (JIAPAC), 14(2), 141-147.

Author Detail:

Saddam Hussain is an MScN student at Aga Khan University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Karachi, Pakistan. He has a wide range of experience in the emergency department. He has completed his baccalaureate degree in Nursing from Aga Khan University, School of Nursing and Midwifery. 

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