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AIDS: treating it, fearing it.

AIDS: Treating it, fearing it

Despite rendering good care to patients with AIDS, manynurses at a large hospital just north of New York City report considerable emotional concerns and fears about their work with these patients. In fact, according to psychiatrist Michael Blumenfield and his colleagues of Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., in some situations, handpicked personnel may need to be assigned to special units for AIDS patients, since some nurses might refuse to treat them on a regular basis (the respondents in this study were not required to work with AIDS victims on a regular basis). In addition, they say that continuing medical education about AIDS should be provided to hospital staff members.

Blumenfield and his co-workers obtained responses to a 10-questionsurvey from 191 nurses at the Westchester County hospital in January 1984. More than 200 AIDS patients have been treated there between 1981 and 1985. One-half of the nurses believed that AIDS can be transmitted to hospital personnel because of contact with patients despite precautions, report the investigators in the January GENERAL HOSPITAL PSYCHIATRY. Furthermore, 85 percent believed that pregnant nurses shoudl not care for AIDS patients, and 39 percent indicated that they would ask for a transfer if they had to care for AIDS patients on a regular basis. One-half of the nurses also said they were more frightened caring for an AIDS patient than for a patient with infectious hepatitis, a more contagious but less serious disease.

It is not clear if these results apply to all nurses who treatAIDS patients, say the researchers, but the reported emotional concerns are important in light of the increasing number of individuals with AIDS seen in general hospitals.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 7, 1987
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