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HIV/AIDS Nursing

What is HIV/AIDS Nursing?

Living with HIV/AIDS requires psychological, emotional, and medical support. The virus affects not only the person who is infected, but also the family and friends of that person. HIV/AIDS nursing is a specialization that focuses on caring for those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. According to the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board (HANCB), the goal of HIV/AIDS nursing is to prevent the spread of the virus, promote adaptation, and to ensure continuity of care. Due to the psychological and emotional impact of dealing with a terminal illness, as well as society's reaction to HIV/AIDS infection, this type of nursing incorporates therapeutic treatment.

What Do HIV/AIDS Nurses Do?

HIV/AIDS nurses are responsible for a variety of tasks. These nurses work closely with HIV/AIDS patients in order to help prevent the spread of infection and monitor and administer necessary treatment. They also provide support for the individual and his or her friends and family. Advanced practice HIV/AIDS nurses have a greater scope of practice, which involves a more global outlook on the AIDS epidemic.

According to Johnson & Johnson, HIV/AIDS nurses connect clients with support groups, educate clients and the public about prevention, and administer treatment and medication. These nurses are employed in various settings, such as hospitals, private clinics, rehabilitation centers, and public health organizations.

What are the Education and Certification Requirements?

The first step in becoming an HIV/AIDS nurse is to complete an accredited diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree registered nursing program. After graduating, an individual must pass the NCLEX-RN and become licensed to work as a nurse.

In order to become an AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN), a nurse pass the ACRN exam offered by the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board (HANCB). In order to be eligible for this exam, one must have an unencumbered RN license, pay the fee, and submit an application. At least 2 years of nursing experience related to HIV/AIDS is preferred, but not required. This certification must be renewed every 4 years.

The HANCB also offers an advanced certification. In order to be eligible for the AACRN examination, one must have an unencumbered RN license, a master's degree or higher, a minimum of 3 years of nursing experience in the past 5 years, and proof of at least 2,000 hours of nursing experience in the past 5 years related to HIV/AIDS. This certification is also renewed every 4 years.

What is the Average Salary of an HIV/AIDS Nurse?

It is difficult to determine the average salary of an HIV/AIDS nurse. Salaries are influenced by location, employer, and the individual's experience and education level. Advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists, are likely to earn a higher income. For registered nurses in general, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimated the median annual salary in 2010 to be $64,690.

What is the Job Outlook?

This is a fairly new nursing specialization. The job outlook for registered nurses is excellent, with the BLS predicting 26% job growth between 2010 and 2020. HIV/AIDS nursing is likely to also have a positive outlook, as awareness of the illness grows and more people seek treatment for the virus. HIV/AIDS research is ongoing as scientists and healthcare professionals work together in attempt to learn more about this deadly illness and find a cure.

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