Heather Boerner

October 31, 2017

The mechanics of keeping people with HIV in care so they achieve viral suppression will be a topic of much discussion at the upcoming Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) 2017 in Dallas.

"One of the biggest issues is retaining people in care," said Jeff Kwong, DNP, from the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City, who is the incoming ANAC board chair and cochair of the conference.

And "nurses are in the ideal role/position to help keep patients engaged in care," he told Medscape Medical News.

There will be plenaries on innovative approaches like the Project ECHO telemedicine model, which links specialists with rural general practitioners, and there will be oral abstract sessions on partnerships between community-based organizations and local house/ball culture, which is the underground community of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people, especially those of color.

"Working with the house/ball community is one of the sessions I'm looking forward to," Dr Kwong told Medscape Medical News. "It's a unique community, and one that often does not get a lot of focus at conferences."

Leaders in nursing will bring their expertise and share real-life experiences about the clinical impact of programs for hard-to-reach populations.

There will be sessions on the opioid crisis, looking at not only the overlap between HIV and hepatitis C risk in people who inject drugs, but also examining strategies relevant to both nurses and policy makers. A case study of the impact HIV testing at a Federally Qualified Health Center had on the epidemic will be presented by nurses from Atlanta. And there will be sessions on working with patients affected by stress, trauma, and "difficult life circumstances," which can interfere with wellbeing and the ability to adhere to treatment.

The care continuum as it relates to adolescents with HIV will be addressed by Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, PhD, RN, NP, from New York University in New York City. And the overall HIV care continuum will be addressed by Ed Gardner, MD, from the University of Colorado Denver.

Strategies and solutions for the prevention of HIV will be explored, including PrEP programs led by nurses and by peer navigators. And a roundtable will specifically address the PrEP needs of black men who have sex with men.

Discussions about issues related to the aging of the HIV population — something nurses could not have imagined when the ANAC was founded — will examine comorbidities such as hepatitis C, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder, cardiovascular disease, and tuberculosis.

"It's amazing that we're celebrating our thirtieth year. It speaks to the need and role of our organization," said Dr Kwong. "We remain the key organization and voice for nurses in the epidemic."

Context of Care

This year, nurses will also discuss how they can help their patients in light of current political and funding realities. "We have sessions designed to address the new sociopolitical environment we're living in," said Dr Kwong.

The medical director of Planned Parenthood will speak about reproductive rights and health, he told Medscape Medical News.

And the critical role safety-net providers play in expanding access to care and addressing disparities in outcomes will be addressed by Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood.

Nurses, Dr Kwong noted, are "front-line clinicians."

A preconference reception celebrating the organization's thirtieth year, to be held at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, will include a discussion of the value of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was President George W. Bush's signature HIV program.

Then, the opening plenary will "review the scientific and sociocultural contexts in which nurses practiced during the pretreatment years of 1981 to 1987." During her presentation, Ella Pritchard Curry, PhD, RN, will address the work that nurses have done as "leaders and providers in expert HIV nursing practice, advocacy, education, policy, and research."

Dr Kwong is on the speaking bureau for Gilead Sciences.

Follow Medscape Nurses on Twitter @MedscapeNurses and Heather Boerner @HeatherBoerner

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