The HIV/ AIDS epidemic has been and continues to be a pressing health issue globally. Since its discovery, nurses have become the front liners in handling this health crisis. As cited in the Journal of Democratic Nursing Organization of South Africa: in resource-limited settings, nurses have assumed multiple responsibilities in HIV care and treatment. Negros Occidental ranked as second highest in Western Visayas with 590 cases in May 2017 according to the Negros Daily Bulletin and CLMMRH, being the Center of HIV/AIDS core team in the province of Negros Occidental, is responsible for the implementation of the HIV/AIDS program of the DOH. In this context, the core team and nurses in this institution have the major responsibility in the holistic care of HIV/AIDS patients and thus prompted the researchers to be interested in exploring their lived experiences.
OBJECTIVE: The research aimed to explore the lived experiences of nurses in the care of clients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Qualitative methodology was used and purposive sampling was utilized to identify the participants. Five (5) Staff nurses employed in CLMMRH with 2 to 8 years of experience were interviewed in depth using a self-made, semi- structured interview guide. Additional supporting data were collected using Key Informant interviews and Focus Group Discussion. In- Depth Interview data were analyzed using Tesch's Proposed 8 Steps in Data Analysis.
RESULTS: On the views related to patients with HIV/AIDS category, six (6) themes identified were: Commiserated, Hopeless, Lack of knowledge, Incurable and Debilitated, and Stigmatized and Gender Bias and Social Status. On dealing with patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, four (4) emerging themes were evident: Fairness and Equality, Fear and Hesitations, Personal Safety Issues, and Positive Regard. The factors that had affected their way of dealing with the patients evolved in the (3) themes namely: Nurses' Attitude, Fear and hesitations, Patients' behavior and Nurses' preparedness. The four (4) challenges encountered by nurses were occupational hazards, patients and significant others' difficult behaviors, inadequate facilities and resources, knowledge deficit and lack of training opportunities. On the 5th category: Nurses' Perception of their experience in caring for HIV/AIDS patients, three (3) emerging themes were identified, namely: Development of Empathy and Caring relationship, Gaps in nursing care and Viewing the patient as a holistic individual. Despite the negative stigma and challenges at the beginning of the nurse-patient relationship, a total shift in the perception took place at the end of the encounter where nurses have found meaning and fulfilment in their experience as evidenced by the following six (6) prevailing themes: Empathy and non-judgmental approach, feeling of fulfilment and appreciation, ensuring personal safety, personal and professional growth, sense of commitment, and taking an extra mile. Finally, after the attentive reflections, intelligent understanding of the participants' responses, and reasonable unveiling of the mask, an eidetic insight was culled, that is, the lived-experience of the nurses exposed to the persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is transformative, despite all the difficulties encountered and the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS.