Thursday, April 21, 2005

HIV

I am placed at an AIDS services organization for my community health rotation. It's a great place and provides legal services, meals, laundry, medical care, case management, temporary housing and cash assistance to HIV+ people. My clinical instructor is also wonderful and is a board member of the Center for Nursing Advocacy (see link at right). I'm too embarassed to tell her that I want to make love to the organization and have written cranky letters to "Grey's Anatomy" and "ER" at their behest. I'll work up to it.

We were assigned patients today and we begin our home visits next week. I was assigned a "difficult" and "noncompliant" patient who has a really outrageous history that, sadly, cannot be shared. Essentially, I've been warned not to give in to any requests or to give into anything, for that matter.

Our day started with a faculty member showing us a giant, plastic, basketball-sized CD4 cell (T-cell) and how HIV attaches, replicates and lets loose from the cell.

Bad news: this faculty member had just returned from an HIV conference and told us that there's little hope for the sort of AIDS vaccine we all want i.e. a one-shot deal we can give anyone. Instead, a new AIDS vaccine will likely have to be developed every year or so to keep up with the virus mutations and would be more like the flu shot than the polio vaccine.

Good news: There is some success with one-time vaccines given to existing HIV+ people to slow the progression of the disease. G

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