JOURNAL ARTICLE

HIV/AIDS issues in the workplace of nurses

A Minnaar
Curationis 2005, 28 (3): 31-8
16245477

UNLABELLED: HIV/AIDS is a global problem with an estimated 40 million infected people. In less than two years, this figure will leap to 100 million according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). By 2005, 65 million people will be infected. Half of the number of people in this group will be under 25 years old, and will die before they reach the age of 35. In a South African study done by the Human Science Research Council and published in 2003, regarding the impact of HIV/AIDS on the health sector, the findings were that 15% of health workers in public and private hospitals tested positive for HIV antibodies. Together with these facts above it was found that 46.2 percent of patients served in medical and paediatric wards tested positive for HIV. These factors have major implication for staffing in the future and the role of the nurse manager in South Africa.

THE AIM OF THE STUDY: To explore the management of HIV/AIDS in the workplace of nurses in selected health services in KwaZulu-Natal. This research was part of a greater study on the exploration of the presence of caring as part of nursing management. THE METHODOLOGY: The qualitative research approach was used with a phenomenological design, which ensured that the richness and the complexities are reflected in the study. The data was collected by means of an open-ended question to nurse managers during an interview. The first question posed was; How do you or your services care for nurses in this hospital? Secondly nurse managers were asked, To explain their role in caring for HIV/AIDS positive nurses on their staff establishment.

THE RESULTS: A qualitative analysis of the interviews with nurse managers indicated that they rate HIV/AIDS issues as an important part of their management task. Four main themes were identified, namely HIV/AIDS, counselling, dying of AIDS and funerals. Rich descriptions of these themes are given in this paper. Nurse managers in the health services are managing HIV/AIDS affected nurses, but are doing so without any formal policy on HIV/AIDS in the workplace. It is recommended that nurse managers deal with HIV/AIDS issues in the workplace by raising HIV/AIDS awareness regarding HIV/AIDS issues and HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

CONCLUSIONS: Nurse managers saw their role regarding nurses with HIV/AIDS mainly as supportive--being involved in family problems and counselling and guiding nurses that live with HIV/AIDS. The health services in KwaZulu-Natal, and especially nurses, are currently affected by HIV/AIDS in a significant way.

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