Crusaders Against HIV and AIDS: RN Stephanie Payne
The medical professional was a pioneer in caring for HIV+ patients.
Sometimes you have to have to be willing to stand alone to make a change.
This is the case with Stephanie Payne. Payne is a registered nurse, and was the first RN in Missouri to take care of an HIV/AIDS patient. With more than 30 years in the medial profession, Stephanie tells Loop21 what drew her to working with HIV patients and where she sees research headed.
Loop21: What made you want to work with people affected by HIV and AIDS:
Stephanie Payne: As a home care RN, HIV patients are a large component of my caseload. Most of the time because of my experience, they find my skills and knowledge helpful.
Loop21: Because of your career choice, do you feel like people judge you?
SP: No, I have found working with HIV patients rewarding. Because I do not judge them (patients) they can trust me and feel comfortable with my teaching/education.
Loop21: What was it like to be one of the firsts to take care of an HIV patient?
SP: At first it was a little intimidating. But after reading and becoming more comfortable with these patients they are just people in need of healthcare, like all of us need healthcare.
Loop21: In what ways do you think people can become more involved in bringing awareness to HIV?
SP: Education should start early about transmission of STD's. There should not be a stigma associated with any valuable education. So, start speaking about health care issues at an early age, parents and teachers are the first teacher for our next generation and it starts there. All of us have challenges in life, but communicating about potential roadblocks in life, like serious health issues, HIV included, we can feel more comfortable with our bodies. We can then respect our bodies and ourselves earlier. Prevention of the spread of HIV is the best result of good education. The young are not aware of the hazards of transmissible diseases. We need to start early with education, just like we are speaking about obesity...finally!
Loop21: What advice would you give to someone who has been diagnosed with HIV?
SP: Seek help right now. Putting off treatment will not be in your best interest. We have a very successful treatment rate if treatment starts early. Denial of potential health concerns will not help. Your life is not over; you will make some changes in how you live your life, but take care of yourself and live a full life.
Loop21:In the future, what changes do you hope to see happen in the HIV community?
SP: Prevention and reduction of infection rates would show that we have been successful in educating our youth. I've been hopeful for a cure or vaccine for 30 years and now it seems closer than ever. But that does not mean we should stop our mission of educating our communities about the dangers of unprotected sex.
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