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So I want to be a Nurse
Mar 13, 2014

I'm a middle-aged HIV positive male who wants to be a nurse. Specifically, I want to work with HIV positive people and those with mental health issues (depression, bipolar, etc..).

I've been positive for 8-years, and this has been a life long dream. One I put on hold when caught in the grip of depression, after learning my status. That and a lengthy hospital stay really took the wind out of my sails.

At this point in time I'm compliant with meds, healthy, and undetectable w/low viral load.

My question is - am I wasting me time pursuing this further. I've heard that there is prejudice against nurses who have HIV and I may not be able to find work. Yet the thought of working with and educating people in the area of HIV care makes me very happy. I smile every time I think about it. Is it possible, or just a pipe dream?

Response from Mr. Chambers

I congratulate you on what is definitely NOT a pipe dream. If you wish, you should go to school and get your degree.

Yes, there is still discrimination in parts of the country and in some occupations, but that should not deter you. HIV+ people are in virtually all areas of healthcare (with some exceptions in invasive specialties like surgery). But HIV discrimination is generally illegal and can be overcome.

Unfortunately, you may encounter discrimination even attempting to go to school, but that can be overcome as well. Learn the equal employment laws in your state; virtually all prohibit HIV discrimination.

Also, see if there are any legal services agencies that work with HIV+ people. They can give you a better idea of what to expect in your geographical area.

I admire your ambition and encourage you to continue your research to go back to school. I have a former coworker who was out on disability. He went to school and is now a nurse at a major hospital.

Keep in mind also, there is a large nursing shortage and it is growing larger.

Best of luck to you, Jacques


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