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Reuters: "Clinton group, India to train nurses in AIDS care"

February 19, 2006 -- Today Reuters issued a short, unsigned piece reporting that former U.S. President Bill Clinton's foundation and the government of India have announced "a joint plan to train nurses in AIDS care in a country which has the world's second-largest number of HIV/AIDS cases." The brief piece may suggest to some that nurses do not have much AIDS expertise simply by virtue of being nurses. And it includes comments from Clinton that arguably understate nurses' role as formulators (not just deliverers) of AIDS care. But Clinton's reported comments also explain that nurses provide life-saving care and vital education to society about AIDS--a rarity coming from a U.S. president. And the piece highlights the importance of nurse training in the care of patients with deadly diseases.

The piece reports that India's National AIDS Control Organization and the Clinton Foundation will jointly develop training material and a program to train the AIDS nurses. India has more than 5.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS, second only to South Africa in the number affected. The Clinton initiative was announced as part of the former president's visit to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, "the country's top hospital." Relying on the Foundation's press release, the Reuters piece quotes Clinton as saying: "Nurses are a critical link in the delivery of care and treatment for people living with HIV...Nurses not only deliver clinical care needed to keep people alive, but they also act as counselors and play an important role in reducing the myths, stigma & discrimination surrounding this disease."

Of course, nurses are more than a "link" in the "delivery" of AIDS care. In fact, nurses are critical formulators of such care, both at the bedside and in designing innovative care systems. For instance, Connie Kganakga, PhD, the nurse who heads up the South African government's AIDS efforts, has worked to create such systems, both in her current position and in her prior work developing nurse-based anti-retroviral rollout models for the Nelson Mandela Foundation. However, we are impressed with Clinton's statement that nurses actually keep people alive. We also appreciate his recognition that nurses play a key role in counseling patients and educating society about the disease, thereby reducing ignorance and discrimination. This holistic approach to disease is in fact an important part of nursing.

We commend Reuters and President Clinton for these generally helpful statements about nursing.

See the Reuters report "Clinton group, India to train nurses in AIDS care" on the ABC website.

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