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Nurses and other health care workers are at the forefront of essential care for HIV infected and AIDS patients, but do they get a say in policy making?
World AIDS Day is marked every year on December 1st with an aim to bring the world’s attention to the HIV epidemic, spread awareness and break the stigma attached to it. We must also observe this day by bringing into attention the selfless efforts constantly made by our health workers in fighting the epidemic.
The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS was broken to some extent when Princess Diana famously shook the hand of an HIV patient, with an attempt to break the false belief that HIV/AIDS gets transmitted by touching a person suffering from it.
“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it.” Princess Diana said at the Children and AIDS Conference in 1991.
We still have a long way to go, especially in countries like India where HIV patients/health workers are still treated as an outcast.
Every year World AIDS Day is centered on a specific theme. The theme for the 2020 Observance is Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact.
This year, the World Health Organization is paying tribute to all the health workers and community representatives who are risking their lives by providing essential services to HIV Patients in the midst of a global pandemic.
We must remember that with the outbreak of a deadly pandemic, providing essential services, in the form of medications and other supplements to HIV patients must be a challenge for frontline workers.
With their selfless efforts; they are also breaking various stigmas and prejudices associated with HIV/AIDS.
In this regard, we must remember the work being by NGOs and other organisations in helping break the stigma by providing direct assistance to HIV infected patients, especially those who are underprivileged, also helping to provide them with adequate nutrition to help them in their fight with the epidemic.
How much say do nurses and other health workers who work with HIV positive persons have?
Nurses have always stood at the forefront of HIV prevention and AIDS Care but have limited or no involvement in policy making. According to the findings of a study, lack of communication from the top down and lack of information sharing were mentioned as one of the barriers to participation in policy development by the nurses.
Yet another study has stated that the International AIDS Society has never had a nurse on its board. A majority of nurses are female, who are less likely to progress in countries where gender inequality persists, and where the hierarchical health systems are dominated by male doctors.
This has been cited as a reason why Association of Nurses in Aids Care (ANAC) and other HIV Associations “find it difficult to reach out and connect with Nurses in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where Nurses are relatively disempowered compared to the West.”
In the wake of the spread of COVID-19, people around the world have begun to realise the significance of and the important role played by health workers, especially nurses who have always been at the forefront of the response team during the outbreak of various epidemics and pandemics, not only COVID.
Nurses do not only provide care but also assist doctors in making proper diagnoses with their keen observation skills and vigilance. Thus, it is about time that nurses get a proper say and representation in the policy making of various diseases, epidemics, and pandemics, where they, with their valuable insights, can bring vital changes and transformation.
With global effort and resilience, a dignified life free from various sorts of exclusion for HIV/AIDS patients and health workers can be ensured. A collective effort is required to achieve this aim, for which governments and administrations all around the world should make sincere efforts and take stern action.
Image source: Flickr
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