HIV Specialty

Red bridgeNearly four decades into the HIV epidemic advances in diagnosis and treatment have transformed what was once considered to be an almost universally fatal disease into a manageable chronic health problem. People with HIV are living longer lives and their primary health care needs are similar to those without HIV. Many health care providers who began working in the field of HIV early on are now retiring, resulting in an HIV health provider workforce shortage. The HIV Specialty for Nurse Practitioners at Duke is designed to address that need, and Nurse Practitioners who complete the Specialty are uniquely positioned to join the workforce and provide comprehensive, patient-centered HIV primary care.

The HIV Specialty is open to newly enrolled and currently enrolled students in the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, or Women's Health Nurse Practitioner majors in the Duke MSN Program. It is also available to students with the same majors who are enrolled in the Duke DNP Program. The distance-based specialty curriculum includes eight credit hours of foundational and clinical courses that address the prevention, care, and treatment of adults living with HIV, with a strong focus on the unique primary care and psychosocial needs of this population. Students in the specialty complete a 168-hour clinical practicum under the mentorship of an experienced HIV primary care clinician.

The eight-credit HIV Specialty is also open as a non-degree option for licensed clinicians who wish to advance their knowledge and expertise in how to care for this unique patient population. Non-degree students earn an HIV Specialty Certificate.

Graduates of our program are managing the primary health care needs of adolescents and adults living with HIV in a diverse array of outpatient clinical settings including federally-qualified community health centers, Ryan White-funded HIV clinics, infectious disease specialty clinics, health department clinics, VAMC clinics, and academic medical centers.

  • Didactic instruction in HIV/AIDS pathophysiology, pharmacotherapy, psychosocial issues, and clinical management

  • Provides 168 supervised clinical hours in HIV healthcare settings across the spectrum of care.

  • Visits to our campus for intensive group learning experiences with an interprofessional faculty of experts complement the online learning and clinical practicum experiences

Q&A with Lead Faculty Kara McGee

Q: What attracts you to HIV care?
A: HIV primary care is a wonderful specialty. HIV is an interesting disease from a scientific standpoint with ever evolving treatment options. Most importantly, caring for people living with HIV allows for the development of long-term patient-provider relationships which are very meaningful for both me and my patients.

Q: What makes the HIV specialty unique?
A: Caring for people living with HIV is special. Unfortunately, people living with HIV often have negative health care experiences because of HIV-related stigma. As an advanced practice provider working in HIV, we have an opportunity to assure the people living with HIV have positive experiences with our healthcare system and the opportunity to advocate for improvements in our health systems so that all people are cared for with compassion. In addition, HIV care requires an interprofessional team of providers so advanced practice providers in this specialty get to work with a wide variety of professionals including physicians, pharmacists, social workers, nurses, and case managers.

Q: What type of nurse should consider a DUSON certificate in HIV?
A: Anyone with interest in chronic disease management and practicing in a setting that allows for the development of long-term patient-provider relationships.

Q: Describe an excellent candidate for the HIV specialty?
A: A nurse practitioner student or practicing nurse practitioner with an interest in chronic disease management.

Q:How can the HIV specialty enhance a nurse's career?
A: Caring for people living with HIV is very rewarding. There is an opportunity to positively impact people's lives and contribute to caring for people who are vulnerable to stigma and discrimination. Additionally, there are many opportunities to participate in advocacy work, community outreach and research.

  • NUR 846: Advanced Practice Nursing: HIV Specialty I (Spring only)

  • NUR 849: Advanced Practice Nursing: HIV Specialty II (Summer only)

  • NUR 848: Advanced Practice Nursing in HIV Synthesis (168-hour clinical practicum)

Enrollment Options

Currently, the HIV specialty is available to nurse practitioner students and practicing nurse practitioners who manage adult patients in primary care or specialty settings.

If you are a current MSN student interested in adding this specialty to your academic plan, you must complete the Add a Specialty Form. This form must be submitted to the MSN Program Office via email (son‐ at least 10 days before the start of the semester.

Licensed health care providers with a master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution (e.g., physician assistants, MDs) interested in the HIV specialty certificate should follow instructions for the Specialty Certificate application. Enrollment decisions are made by the lead faculty of the specialty based on space availability.



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