Nurses can effectively administer HIV care
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The problem of HIV is widespread, and one of the problems is that there are not enough doctors to reach out to all of the individuals who have the virus. Now, a recent study has found that HIV care administered by a nurse is just as effective as care given by a doctor, which may open the door for new models of HIV treatment, especially in low-income countries where there is an insufficient number of doctors.
The study, which was published in The Lancet, showed that neither virus suppression or survival rates were reduced when nurses administered antiretroviral drugs. In fact, researchers found that there were benefits to nurses giving HIV medications. For example, patients had an increased white blood cell count, increased weight and adhered better to their treatment program when they were treated by nurses. Furthermore, there was a significant improvement in tuberculosis detection.
This study was conducted in South Africa, where there are an estimated 6 million people who have HIV.
"There is a critical need to improve access to antiretroviral drugs - not only in South Africa but in other low to middle income countries where infection rates are high and doctors are in short supply. HIV programs worldwide should now consider expanding nurse-centered care, safe in the knowledge that there need not be detrimental effects on patient health or mortality rates if done carefully," said researcher Max Bachmann.
The scientist added that he and the other study authors are planning on conducting more research to determine the cost effectiveness of shifting HIV care from nurses to doctors. Furthermore, they're not stopping with HIV. They also want to explore using nurses to administer treatment for other chronic diseases that plague middle and low-income countries.
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