Improving nursing knowledge to care for patients with HIV/AIDS/TB, India
Despite limited resources, Bel-Air College of Nursing is making a remarkable difference in the availability of well-educated nurses willing and capable of providing compassionate care to individuals, families and communities affected by HIV/AIDS/TB.
Rising epidemics of HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) in India mean that 2.1 million people live with HIV and 3 million with TB. While access to low/no-cost care has been made available by the Indian Red Cross Society, amongst the population and the nursing profession there are high levels of stigma and discrimination for patients with HIV/AIDS/TB; and the fear of caring for those with these diseases has led to a shortage of well-qualified nurses in the region.
Lourdu Mary Nagothu, the Principal of Bel-Air College of Nursing, decided to tackle this stigma and discrimination head on through the development of India’s first nursing education programme to teach nurses to provide compassionate, comprehensive, stigma-free care for individuals, families and communities affected by HIV and TB.
In 2011, University of Illinois Chicago and Bel-Air began to develop India’s first Master’s degree with a subspecialty in HIV/AIDS nursing. The programme enrolled its first MSc students in 2014. These MSc-prepared nurses are educated to provide HIV specialty care, to teach nurses in clinical and community settings, and to work intensively with families and communities to reduce stigma and care willingly for those living with HIV and TB.
Through its strong academic programmes and emphasis on providing holistic, care in a stigma-free environment, Bel-Air Hospital and College of Nursing has successfully recruited 400 students in the BSc programme, and nine in the MSc programme, supported by scholarships and no-interest loans. Since 2010, 280 baccalaureate-prepared nurses have been educated to provide holistic care to society’s most marginalized groups.
In addition,170 low-income students have enrolled in a programme to educate Auxiliary Nurse Midwives for remote rural areas. Bel-Air’s holistic, stigma-free approach to patient care creates a learning environment that has been shown to significantly reduce students’ HIV/AIDS-related stigma across the four programme years. Graduates are ambassadors who role-model non-stigmatizing care, reducing stigma among families and communities and changing societal views of nursing. Moreover, graduates demonstrate high academic performance, resulting in their being in great demand at hospitals throughout India. This quality nursing education empowers young women and raises the status of nursing in India.