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.
Carole Treston, ANAC's chief nursing officer, told TheBodyPRO.com 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 TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.
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