Can you be a nurse if you are HIV positive?

Updated July 19, 2017

During these hard economic times when unemployment is at an all-time high, a nursing career offers thousands of jobs all over the world. But is a nursing career an option for an HIV-positive person? The answer to that question is yes.

How is HIV Transmitted?

To understand why HIV-infected people can be nurses, we first have to understand how HIV is spread from person to person. HIV infection occurs when there is exposure to HIV-infected bodily fluids. Exposure occurs in the following ways: During unprotected sex, while sharing needles, when receiving donated blood products (very rare since 1992), while being breastfed by an HIV-positive woman and when exposed to infected bodily fluids during childbirth. None of these transmission routes occur while working as a nurse and therefore do not prevent the HIV-infected person from becoming a nurse.

Casual Contact is Not a Transmission Route

Causal contact such as shaking hands, hugging, kissing, or the casual contact between nurses and their patients do not transmit HIV. Therefore, HIV-infected nurses can't transfer their virus to others by performing their duties.

Is the HIV-positive Nurse at Risk?

Depending on the health of the nurse's immune system, patients could spread their illness to the HIV-infected nurse. However, nurses are very careful to protect themselves against the illnesses or infections of their patients. If a patient has an illness that can be spread to others, nurses use protective equipment such as gowns, latex gloves and masks to protect themselves while caring for the patient.

In Summary

Having an HIV infection does not prevent a person from working as a nurse. Their HIV is no risk to the patients and nurses use protective equipment to protect themselves from acquiring the patient's illness or disease.

Continue Your Dream

If you are an HIV-positive person and you want to become a nurse, it's possible. Study hard, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest, avoid tobacco and recreational drugs and follow your doctor's advice to keep your immune system as strong as possible. Doing those things will help you accomplish your dream of becoming a nurse.

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About the Author

Mark Cichocki has been a health and medical writer since 1999. He currently writes for a national HIV/AIDS website that generates one million hits each month. He has written more than 500 health-related articles and is the author of the book "Living with HIV: A Patient's Guide," published by McFarland Publishing.