Taking care of our clients and ourselves

12 January 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 1

If we have learnt anything in the previous couple of years, it is that nurses are tenacious, skilled, resourceful, compassionate and competent. During the pandemic, they found themselves redeployed to areas of nursing in which they had not undertaken work for many years. This included HIV specialist nurses being deployed to intensive care units, COVID-assigned wards and other departments supporting the directly affected workforce. As the NHS tried to return to a semblance of normality, HIV nurses noticed that many of their clinics had changed and they had lost touch with clients who had previously engaged with their care, and they saw the number of individuals seeking HIV testing fall below pre-pandemic levels.

The ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach during the pandemic was understandable. We were dealing with a virus that we were learning about daily and that was having devastating effects on many who came into contact with it. The virus had a disproportional impact on individuals living in populations already marginalised, and a language of blame resurfaced for those who did not adhere to guidelines on isolation or engage with preventive measures such as vaccines. For many HIV nurses, this was reminiscent of the imagery, memories and experiences of the early days of HIV.

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