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Nursing Careers: Helping People Who Have HIV/AIDS

Many nurses choose to work in the field of HIV/AIDS.  This area is in-demand because of the rise in numbers of people who have contracted this illness.  It requires special training and a special gift for working with diverse people, but it is equally rewarding.


            To work in this field, youíll be required to become an AIDS Certified Registered Nurse or ACRN.  In order to become an ACRN, youíll have to be certified by the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board. Registered nurses who have at least two years of practice in HIV/AIDS settings are recommended to take the exam.  The exam is 

offered throughout the year at locations all over the United States.

            To prepare for the examination, you may want to take courses in HIV/AIDS symptoms, the immune system, and diversity training.  While these courses arenít required prerequisites, they can help you with the broad knowledge base youíll need to pass the written exam and to work in the field.


            Once you become certified, youíll have to attend continuing education courses that are specifically related to nursing in this field.  If you donít maintain the correct number of hours of continuing education, you can lose your certification.


            After you become and ACRN, there are many career opportunities that may interest you.  Nurses in this field can work with a variety of populations.  Youíll need to be comfortable working with diverse groups of people including IV drug users and the homosexual community. 


Youíll also need to feel comfortable working with people from a variety of ethnicities because the disease is more common in people of color.  You may also find that it helps to enjoy working with women because the disease is also more common in female populations.  It is no longer a disease thatís most prevalent in homosexual males as it once was.


            You may work in a hospital setting dealing with direct patient care.  You can also work in public health clinics doing patient care or education.  In fact, many people certified as ACRNs work in the field of prevention and education.  Their main focus is teaching special populations how to avoid becoming infected with the HIV virus.


            The need for ACRNs is increasing, but itís not for everyone.  If you enjoy working with people who have chronic and life-limiting illness and enjoy working with a diverse group of people, this field may be right for you.  If enjoy this area, becoming an ACRN can help to increase your salary and provide job security in a field that needs more nurses.



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