What You Need To Know About Being An HIV Nurse

What Is An HIV Nurse?

According to http://www.discovernursing.com, “HIV Nurses are trained to provide care for patients infected with AIDS, a deadly, incurable disease that attacks a patient’s immune system. These nurses help patients cope with and manage the different emotional and physical symptoms that come with having their disease. Many HIV/AIDS Nurses work in community or public health, educating at risk groups about safe sex and the dangers of sharing needles”. As a result we can see that there are multiple aspects involved in HIV /AIDS nursing. For one thing it is clear that you have to attend to the emotional and psychological well being of your patients in addition to simply providing them with healthcare services. In addition there is quite a strong focus on prevention in the field of HIV / AIDS. This involves attempts at preventing the spread of the disease before it becomes a serious problem. This is achieved through education and other community-based methods.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

There are a number of job duties that you would be required to perform as an HIV / AIDS nurse:

  • Firstly you will be directly responsible for providing healthcare to patients with HIV/Aids on a daily basis.
  • In addition to merely providing care to your patients, you will also be responsible for educating patients and their families about living with HIV/Aids safely and in the most optimal way.
  • HIV / AIDS treatment is generally addressed from a multidisciplinary approach, which means that you will be working closely with other healthcare professionals.
  • As an HIV / AIDS nurse you will be directly responsible for monitoring a patient’s condition on a continual and ongoing basis.
  • It will also be your responsibility to refer a patient to other healthcare professionals if you think that it is necessary because you are unable to assist that patient any further.
  • Last, but certainly not least, you will be responsible for ensuring terminally ill patients are as comfortable as possible.HIV Nurse


There are a number of settings in which you are likely to find an HIV / AIDS nurse working. These include Hospitals, Home Health, and Community Care Centers, Physician’s office, Outpatient care clinics and Hospices. Essentially, as an HIV / AIDS nurse you will be able to work in any setting where patients suffering from HIV or AIDS are located.

HIV Nurse Requirements

The basic requirements for being an HIV nurse are as follows:

  • Firstly you have to earn a Nursing Diploma, an Associate of Science in Nursing, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This must be done through an accredited school offering an approved program.
  • Once you have earned your basic qualification you will be unable to practice as a nurse until you have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
  • At this point you can start working as a registered nurse, which is highly recommended because of the experience you will develop in this way.
  • Following that it is ideal that you receive two years of experience working in an HIV/AIDS related field, but this is not required.
  • Next you must pass your AIDS Certified Registered Nurse exam (ACRN) in ordered to become an AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN).

Personality Traits

There are a number of personality traits that may be specifically useful when working with HIV / AIDS patients:

As an HIV / AIDS Nurse you need to be able to care for the patients, while leaving your feelings at work when you go home. There are many feelings that come up as an HIV / AIDS Nurse as the job is highly intensive from an emotional perspective. As a professional you will need to be able to separate your work life from your personal life adequately. Worrying about your patients while you are at home will only increase your chances of experiencing burnout. In addition you will find it challenging to deal with your personal problems as well.
As HIV / AIDS Nurse you must not judge the patients. Many people assume that the HIV patients knew they were exposing themselves to this disease, although this is not the case and all the patients deserve the same level of care as those who are dying from other terminal illnesses.

You will need to balance caring with a professional attitude as you show the patients compassion although not care to much to let it bother you personally.

Educational Requirements

In order to be an HIV nurse, you must be currently licensed as a registered nurse in the USA or hold an international equivalent nursing degree. This means that you need to meet the educational requirement of having completed an accredited nursing program that led to your ability to take and pass the NCLEX-RN examination. In addition to this you must also have a minimum of two years experience working in a HIV related area such as research, education or clinical practice. This second dimension is only strictly speaking required if you intend to become certified as an HIV nurse. It is highly recommended that you do so as this will greatly improve your employment opportunities. The AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN) examination is sanctioned by the Association of Nurses in Aids Care (ANAC) and the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board (HANCB). Certification is voluntary but highly valued and provides recognition of expertise in the area of HIV and AIDS. It also proves that the HIV/AIDS nurse has shown commitment and dedication to his/her career.


To be an HIV nurse you must earn an RN license:

  • Complete an RN training program through an accredited school
  • Apply for licensure with your state board of nursing
  • Once approved, apply to write the exam with Pearson VUE
  • Pay the examination fee and set an exam date
  • Study for the exam using the many resources provided online and by various nursing schools and nursing organizations
  • Sit the exam
  • On passing the exam your state board of nursing will send you your license which could take a few months after actually writing the test

How To Become An HIV Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

You can be an HIV nurse simply by meeting the training requirements that any RN has to go through. However you have the opportunity to advance your career in the area of HIV nursing by becoming certified in the profession. Certification can be achieved through taking the AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN) examination. Preparation for this examination is offered at many schools as well as online. However your years of experience in HIV nursing will be the best form of preparation that you can possibly hope to find before taking the examination.

Source An Accredited Education Program

In order to become an HIV / AIDS nurse you need to attend an accredited training program. If the program that you attend is not accredited you will essentially be wasting both your time and your money as your qualification will not be taken seriously and will most probably not result in employment. Here are some schools for you to consider:

Vanderbilt University
School of Nursing
Godchaux Hall 207
461 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37240

University of California – San Francisco
School of Nursing
2 Koret Way, #N-511L
San Francisco, CA 94143

Hunter College of the City of New York
Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing
425 East 25th Street
New York, New York 10010

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

There are a number of education options that you could choose in order to eventually become an HIV / AIDS nurse. One of the more popular options is to earn your associate’s degree which can be done by enrolling in any nursing school that offers the qualification. When applying, apply to at least three different schools to increase your chances. To graduate from the program you will need to meet all of the course requirements, including the theoretical and practical dimensions. When this is achieved, you will graduate with an associate’s degree that will allow you to sit the exam.

Obtain Your Licensure

The only license that is really required for this line of work is an RN license. However HIV / AIDS nurses can voluntarily seek to become certified. This involves taking an exam. IN order to qualify for the exam, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must possess a valid and current registered nurse license
  • You must have a bachelor of science in nursing, associate degree in nursing or diploma in nursing
  • You must have achieved a satisfactory passing score on the National Council for Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN)
  • You must not have any restrictions barring practice from any nursing or health regulatory board
  • You must have at least two years of HIV/AIDS-related practice experience in the form of clinical practice, research, education or management

Online/Distance Education Programs

There are a number of RN programs that offer training online. However it is very important that you ensure that the program you choose to enroll in is in fact accredited. In addition there is no way to escape the compulsory hands-on training that all nurses must achieve, so if the program does not make provisions for this dimension of your education, you should consider an alternative program. Online programs are more likely to be dishonest and offer a lower level of tuition than face-to-face programs, but this is not true in all cases and studying in this way is cheaper and more convenient.

HIV Nurse Job Outlook

The outlook for the nursing profession in general is extremely good at the moment, and there is an even higher demand for nurses who specialize in specific areas, such as HIV / AIDS. This indicates that, as professions go, this one is a good option to choose as the future looks stable. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The average salary for an HIV / AIDS Nurse is between $49,000 and $51,000 approximately. However there are many other similar job titles that you could hold as an HIV / AIDS Nurse so it is interesting to look at what similar nurses earn:

  • As a Registered Nurse II you can expect to earn in the region of $55,000 a year
  • As a public health informatics / GIS specialist you can expect to earn in the region of $47,000 a year
  • As a community health nurse you can expect to earn in the region of $45,000 a year
  • As a public health nurse you can expect to earn in the region of $46,000 a year
  • As a public health nurse III you can expect to earn in the region of $54,000 a year

There are a number of factors that can affect a nurse’s salary These include the number of years of experience you have, what certifications you have (being an ACRA can lead to higher salaries), what region of the U.S. you live in, and whether you are working in a metropolitan or rural area. Advanced practice nurses (who are trained at the master’s level) also earn significantly higher salaries on average.

There are a number of benefits to entering this profession, not least of which is the fact that you will be able to play an important role in combating a very real and severe epidemic. It is important to note that although certification as an HIV nurse is not a requirement, it is highly recommended that you seek certification of this kind as it can significantly improve your chances of being employed within your chosen specialty in the nursing profession.

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