Nursing a Plague: HIV and AIDS Care, 1981-1996

Dr Tommy Dickinson, Deputy Head, Department of Mental Health Nursing, King’s College London

Link to Nursing a Plague: HIV and AIDS Care, 1981-1996 event
Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019
16:00 - 17:30
University of Chester Riverside Campus

In response to the escalating AIDS crisis in the mid-1980s, special wards were created to care for people with HIV and AIDS. Nurses were responsible for providing much of this pioneering care, yet there is almost nothing written on the nursing work that was done caring for these people. In this paper, historian and nurse Dr Tommy Dickinson discusses some of the findings of an ongoing study that is investigating a hitherto neglected area of nursing history by looking in detail at United Kingdom (UK) nurses’ perspectives on providing care to people with HIV and AIDS.

 The project begins in 1981 with the first reported AIDS case in the UK, and continues until 1996; when the evidence base for antiretroviral medication became explicit alongside shifting concepts of HIV as a terminal illness to a manageable chronic disease.  The paper draws on a rich array of source materials including previously unseen, fascinating (and often quite moving) oral histories, archival and news media sources, and aims to redress the lack of nurses’ voices in the UK’s AIDS history. And it offers a fresh understanding of the draw of HIV and AIDS nursing to queer nurses, which supplements Dickinson’s previous work regarding queer life within mental hospitals. The paper also explores an important area of nursing ethics and socialisation, by analysing how nurses made decisions about what was professionally right and wrong in the context of ambiguity, frustration and conflict in their immediate personal and professional lives and at a broader political level.

The University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care (FHSC) Historical Society aims to unite individuals with an interest in medicine, nursing, midwifery and social work across the University and the wider community. The Society meets regularly for a range of talks and discussion and anyone with an interest in health and social care or social history is welcome to attend.

Admission free but booking necessary.

Please contact or ring 01244 512095) to confirm your place.

There is no car parking available at the Riverside Campus (formerly County Hall) and access to the lecture rooms is through the main entrance, opposite the River Dee. The address is: University of Chester, Riverside Campus, Castle Drive, Chester CH1 1SL.

The Faculty of Health and Social Care Riverside Museum will also be open between 1pm and 4pm.