Blood-borne pathogens: Further opportunities for ‘gold standard’ nursing care

Juliet Bennett
Independent HIV Specialist Nurse Advisor

We kick off 2015 with a look at blood-borne pathogens and related issues. I hope this issue provides you with some food for thought and some inspiration. Please do write to us with your feedback on any of the articles published.
In the field of HIV, in our prevention and health promotion work, we have learnt a considerable amount about what works and what doesn’t. This health promotion role is a highly relevant one for us as nurses with our individualised, holistic and empathetic approach to care, together with detailed knowledge of risk behaviour and risk reduction. We have had to be non-judgemental and highly creative in our approaches, yet historically some harm-reduction interventions have failed to engage people and we need to reflect on and learn from these experiences.
In one interesting, recently presented study of people who injected drugs, interviewees frequently adopted safer injecting practices, but were found to be more motivated by a desire to have a quick, pleasurable ‘hit’ rather than by concerns about blood-borne pathogen transmission. In common with other qualitative research, most respondents in this study saw infection as ubiquitous and an ‘occupational hazard’ [1]. On its own, an awareness of the potential of dangers of infection doesn’t seem to be enough to change people’s behaviours. Perhaps then, as the authors suggest, past strategies have over-emphasised infection and risk? If we pay more attention to the pleasures and pragmatics of using drugs, and do away with the negative use of language, which focuses on things that people should not do, we might increase our chances of reaching those as yet unexposed to harm-reduction messages, or those who have previously proved ‘hard to reach’. Read more . . .