Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) remains a significant global health issue due to the many lives affected. Despite the ongoing prevention programs around the world and the strides that have been made by some countries in slowing the pandemic, HIV/AIDS continues to surge. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the greatest burden of the disease. The challenges constituted by HIV have progressed over the last decade, especially among the young population in developing countries. HIV poses a risk to the infected, the financial security of their families, and the safety of the societies of the infected.
With the current understanding of the disease, its prevalence is astounding.
Millions of people have already died from HIV; the disease is prevalent in every country and in every stratum of society, has no barriers and does not discriminate against race, gender or class and has found its way in the families of presidents such as the late Nelson Mandel. The non-discriminatory nature of HIV/AIDS, makes prevention and control a high priority for individuals and public health organizations.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund an estimated 36.7 million people are living with HIV worldwide as of 2016, of which 2.1 million were children under the age of 15 years, about 18.8 million were girls and women. Today more people are aware of HIV and how it can be prevented than any other time in history since HIV emerged; however, significant prevention challenges remain. Some individuals avoid testing simply because they are afraid of a positive result while others who have tested positive delay in seeking care and treatment due to sheer denial of their status.
Most countries in SSA are dependent on external funding for HIV treatment and prevention programs, which is only available on a short-term basis; this poses a serious economic barrier. In order to address, expand and combat the SSA HIV/AIDS pandemic, a long-term sustainability plan is required. Today the role of nurses continues to expand as more are being trained to provide care for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, an incurable disease that attacks a person’s immune system. Many HIV/AIDS nurses work in communities where the disease burden is high and in countries where access to health care recourses remain a challenge. Nurses have had a significant role in managing those diagnosed with HIV since the disease was first reported in the early 1980’s. They are involved in all parts of care: the moment a patient is diagnosed, treatment, home based care, and palliative care.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the Impact HIV/AIDS plays on African women, children, Social, cultural and Governmental barriers and role the primary role of nurses in reducing stigma and discrimination in caring for people living with HIV. HIV Stigma and Discrimination HIV related stigma refers to social discrimination and negative thoughts and beliefs about people living with HIV/AIDS. It is believing, judging and labeling an individual as part of a group that is not socially tolerable. Discrimination is treating those with HIV unfairly compare to those who are HIV negative. Social and cultural barriers such as stigma and discrimination still abound in all countries. Stigma heightens denial and secrecy, changing how individuals view themselves and how they believe others view them as human beings.
Fear of being identified or associated with HIV stops people from knowing their status and changing their unsafe behaviors, which stimulates HIV transmission. Disparities in HIV rates are also intensified by social and economic inequality. Women are more affected and are often discriminated upon regarding education, employment, and healthcare. Men dominate most sexual relationships, and this leads to the practices of unsafe sex even when they know the risks involved. For this reason, gender -based violence has been an important factor in HIV transmission in SSA. As the figure below shows, stigma hinders the global efforts in eradicating new HIV/AIDS cases and for those infected, will continue to get sick and will continue to be less productive in society especially in SSA.
Similarly, stigma in United States contributes to mental and physical health disparities among individuals of different ethnicity and race. Black women are the most affected forcing them to keep their status hidden in fear of being denied employment and increasing the likely hood of being infected of HIV. Nurses are vital in providing treatment to individuals living with HIV. Even with an increase in nurse led models of patient care, significant barriers still exist within health systems that hinder people from accessing care and treatment. African Women and HIV African Children and HIV Pg 179 personal communication For example a child contracted HIV.
Nursing Roles and Interventions Nurses are vital in providing treatment to individuals living with HIV. Even with an increase in nurse led- models of patient care, significant barriers still exist within health systems that hinder people from accessing care and treatment. A great burden has been placed on the shoulders of nurses despite the decline in new HIV/AIDS cases. HIV/AIDS problem is prevalent in South Africa, with seven million individuals living with HIV. Government hospitals are populated with patients diagnosed HIV related illnesses and the government is not able to adequately support nurses. The country is suffering from a shortage of supplies such as personal protective equipment, and lack of manpower. Patient- nurse ratio is not manageable, nurses take care of more patients than they can handle