Nursing considerations

Nurses can play an important role in helping people with HIV who inject drugs engage in health care. Interventions include:

  • Establishing trust through non-judgmental approaches
  • Supporting and educating them in harm reduction, i.e.: safe injecting techniques, access to clean injecting equipment and safe disposal of injecting equipment. This can help prevent complications that may arise from injecting as well as transmission of blood-borne viruses
  • Supporting and referring to services based on a peer-led model
  • Providing care in supervised injecting rooms, providing a safe environment and opportunities for education, harm reduction, health promotion, and referral[38]
  • Ensuring access to prevention, testing and treatment
  • Facilitating adherence to antiretroviral therapy with the subsequent reduction of community viral load and reduction of the risk of HIV transmission, as well as preventing complications of untreated HIV infection
  • Avoiding punitive approaches to drug use, for example, unfounded or discriminatory institutional policies or behaviours towards drug users; counter-productive actions such as appending warning signs in health facilities that injecting on the premises of a needle and syringe program facility will result in its closure.