Nurses' attitudes toward caring for persons with HIV disease

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Gibson, Jean E.
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Providing compassionate care to the growing number of patients with HIV disease is one of the greatest challenges facing health care providers today. Being part of the general population, some nurses also have fears and prejudices toward persons with HIV disease. These attitudes may impact their willingness to provide care or the quality of care they provide. Therefore, the problem investigated is: What are the attitudes of nurses toward persons with HIV disease? The purpose of this study is to identify nurses' attitudes toward persons with HIV disease. Related issues such as possible factors which may influence nurses' attitudes and the potential effect of these attitudes on the care provided are discussed. The method used for this, study is a review and synthesis of literature from 1987 to the present that focuses on nursing but includes other relevant research. Numerous studies have been conducted to measure the attitudes of nurses toward persons with this disease. The most frequently reported attitudes of nurses toward persons with HIV disease are identified as: fear of contagion and personal prejudices (homophobia, attitudes toward lifestyle factors such as illicit drug use and prostitution and the nurse's general like or dislike for the patient's personality). Influences on these attitudes are identified as cultural beliefs, the nurses' right to refuse care, the demands of working with the chronically ill, terminal HIV patient and the nurses' education. The perceptions of nurses' attitudes by persons with HIV disease and how this impacts health