HIV/AIDS Nurses on Ebola: Association Encourages Members to Step Forward as Informed, Educated Sources

October 24, 2014

This week, the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) sent an email message to its members encouraging them to speak out about the impact of Ebola on global health.

"As nurses, we are uniquely positioned to step forward and be informed and educated sources of information for our families, colleagues and communities," the group explained. "Nurses, as the most trusted source of health care information, can and should serve as reliable health educators, doing our best to provide factual information and to counter myths and untruths."

Like many in the HIV community, ANAC sees echoes of AIDS hysteria in the media coverage of the Ebola outbreak, and it emphasizes the need to be "extra perceptive and supportive now, for our patients, for our colleagues and for ourselves," as the media coverage can trigger traumatic feelings of fear and stigma for people with HIV and providers alike.

ANAC's statement emphasizes its solidarity with nurses in West Africa, who have "demonstrated tremendous bravery and commitment to their patients in the face of overwhelming challenges. ... In West Africa, nurses continue to care for patients without access to appropriate protective equipment, and they tragically have the highest mortality among all healthcare providers fighting Ebola. This is a fact that has escaped recent U.S.-based media coverage and attention."

Carole Treston, ANAC's chief nursing officer, told that "the nurse in Nigeria, the nurse in Liberia, the grandmother in Liberia who is caring for her children and then gets it herself, they matter to us."

The organization is documenting ways to assist and support current efforts, including an up-to-date list of volunteer opportunities, and will publicize them through email announcements, social media and its website.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has set up a resource bank on Ebola. On Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. EST, ANA will also sponsor a webinar on preparedness across the spectrum of care; ANAC encourages interested members to participate.

Nurses providing HIV care know well the importance of accurate and accessible information, and ANAC urges its members to use these skills in talking about Ebola:

Talk to your patients, your families, your friends, your colleagues, your communities. Inform and educate them with compassion and facts. Provide them with accurate information about Ebola, just as you do every day about HIV, a virus that is still surrounded by misinformation, inaccuracies and untruths.

ANAC says it recognizes that the Ebola epidemic may continue in West Africa long after Ebola disappears from headlines in the U.S., and vows to continue to focus on supporting colleagues in the region.

Julie "JD" Davids is the managing editor for and

Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.

Copyright © 2014 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Denise (Brigantine NJ) Wed., Nov. 5, 2014 at 12:51 pm UTC
Helpful article. Still, nurses caring for patients and all in contact with a positive patient, need substantive education. Media sound bites do not provide real science or modes of care. Indeed all patient care professionals or anyone in contact with a possibly positive individual, need unequivocal knowledge of this virulent disease.I would suggest, it is the nurses'responsibility to protect themselves and others, with good science.
We have a responsibility to continually learn from both the current literature and in particular, the literature that has not, to date, been made available to us in Ebola history. I suggest, we do not "panic". However, the Ebola virus is not a new pathogen. It has been endemic to Africa likely, before it was ever identified by science. It is incumbent on all nurses to spread the truth (as much as we understand it)but not the disease. The etiology, epidemiology and virology is still not well understood. CDC say, the Ebola virus is not airborne; it has however been found to live for months, on vectors biological and inanimant.It's life cycle's similiar to the virus known as the "Black Death"
I suggest, we must be educated by the "experts" but more importantly, self motivated to read not just the current literature, but review science written of Ebola outbreaks, over the past 30+ years! There is are tomes of literature; we must take the time to read asap. It's helpful to read scientific literature explaining the 4 type of Ebola its proposed transmission which is known to be airborne in spite of the Media's output, under certain circumstances. An German article I found easily read is: An Introduction to Ebola: The Virus and the Disease. Nurses' volunteering participation in Africa is indeed admirable. There are many 3rd world places in need. However, any nurse saying,they know Ebola, & decides for an entire city, she's "not a danger" is a fool & has no ethics
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