This fall, senior nursing students enrolled in the Nursing 417 Community Course partnered with the Central District Health Department to screen at risk HIV populations, promote knowledge about HIV, and provide counseling to HIV positive patients.
The course goals for the students were to: become certified to screen and counsel for HIV, destigmatize HIV, promote HIV screening and awareness, create posters and flyers for outreach, and provide screening services to the community.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in eight individuals living with HIV are unaware of their infection, there are about 50,000 new HIV infections each year, almost half of the individuals in Idaho who are HIV positive reside in District four (Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley counties), and there were 1,436 confirmed cases of HIV in Idaho in 2015.
Over the course of the semester, students participated in several outreach projects in their community. They created and distributed posters and flyers throughout the Treasure Valley. They surveyed 102 individuals about their knowledge on HIV risks and transmission and performed a total of 97 HIV screenings. Students also collaborated with Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDs, Boise Center for Behavioral Health, Idaho State University, and Boise State Health Services.
“This experience has expanded our knowledge, skill and empathy. As nursing students, we have been fortunate enough to learn about HIV and how to help care for individuals who have contracted it,” said the students in the class. “A major lesson we have learned throughout our experience is that we need to help remove the stigma associated with HIV. This stigma has persisted their condition. The view on HIV needs to change in order to help these individuals gain acceptance in our community. We are now better equipped to educate and inform others and help remove the stigma associated with HIV. This experience has not only improved our nursing skills, but also made us better individuals.”
Students that participated in this project became certified to screen for HIV and to provide counseling. The students plan to submit their abstract to the Western Institute of Nursing convention in California, continue to participate in and encourage HIV screening events, and work towards the goal of de-stigmatizing HIV in the Treasure Valley and surrounding areas.