Nurses were well represented and visible at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS2014) held in July in Melbourne, and ANAC was thrilled to partner with several Australian HIV and nursing organizations to support and facilitate increased visibility and recognition of nursing’s critical contributions to HIV prevention, care, policy and research.
During AIDS2014, ANAC hosted a Nursing Satellite Session, which was attended by more than 120 nurses at a 7:00 a.m. time slot! Continuing with the theme that connected all of our nursing activities during AIDS 2014 – Nurses Stepping Up, Nurses Stepping Forward, Nurses Stepping Beyond – the satellite presentations featured innovative nurse-led programs in diverse settings. Nurse leaders from Australia and the U.S. discussed their programs in Nepal, rural Australia, South Africa, and in the Australian Aboriginal Health Service. It was rewarding to reflect on our shared nursing heritage, and salute the legacy of Florence Nightingale as our original champion for the intersection of human rights and health, evidence-based practice and nurses as public health and social justice advocates.
ANAC also organized a very well-attended Workshop on medical–legal partnerships to address HIV related public policy issues and the critical role nurses and physicians have in informing their development. The Workshop was selected through the abstract submission process, and was a part of the main AIDS2014 Conference program. ANAC collaborated with other American and Australian policy organizations to deliver content on HIV criminalization, including strategies for protecting our patients, advocacy for syringe exchange programs, and the development of HIV national policies.
During AIDS2014, seven ANAC members joined more than 21 Australian HIV nursing colleagues in staffing the AIDS2014 Nursing Booth in the Global Village in a “Talk to a Nurse” format. Areas of expertise included sexual & reproductive health, community nursing, quality improvement, human rights, research, aging care, nursing education, and much more. This booth was the first official nursing-focused space in the Global Village, and was a center for lively discussion, collaboration and networking.
Interestingly, many visitors to the booth in the Global Village thought we were only representing HIV positive nurses. It became clear that the need for support for HIV positive nurses and other healthcare workers is as great as ever, as the burgeoning number of HIV positive nurses worldwide deserves more of our attention. This will be particularly important in countries with high HIV rates, where fear and prejudice about people living with HIV is strong, the impact of stigma is isolating, and fear of disclosure is predominant, even while some unknown numbers of health care workers, including nurses are living with HIV. ANAC plans to continue, and in fact, increase our role as a global advocate, resource and support system for nurses living with HIV.
During the Conference Closing Session, incoming IAS President Chris Beyrer drew attention to the imprisonment of Rosemary Namubiru, a nurse living with HIV in Uganda, as one example of a new wave of oppressive laws and policies that stigmatize people living with HIV. We join with Dr. Beyrer in committing to inclusion and evidence-based policies and practices for all who need and want HIV treatment and services.
The next International AIDS Conference (AIDS2016) will take place in Durban, South Africa. ANAC will galvanize other nursing organizations to ensure that the varied and critical roles of nurses in getting to an AIDS free generation will be a focus. We encourage you to get involved early and be a part of our work.