Client: University of California San Francisco School of Nursing


Since 2000, I have been writing most of the lead feature stories for this biannual publication for one of the leading schools of nursing in the nation. This story was about the UCSF School of Nursing's deep clinical and research involvement in fighting AIDS in Africa.


Nonhlanhla Sukati, a nurse educator and researcher at the University of Swaziland, can't forget the face of a now-dead student nurse. It was ravaged not just by a dramatic rash - a herpes zoster caused by HIV/AIDS - but also by the scorn of her fellow students.

"They wanted her kicked out of the dormitory and did not want her to go to the dining hall to get her meals because they felt they would contract the disease through sharing utensils," says Sukati.

It's only one of many tragic stories, but for Sukati this young woman's tortured face says much about the effect of HIV/AIDS in her homeland: physical pain, stigmatization caused by ignorance of the disease - and death. Despite the recent introduction of antiretroviral treatments, HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries, more than one in three adults are infected; no other region of the world has a higher prevalence. As the disease decimates families, friends and neighbors, few people in southern Africa remain untouched.

But however disturbing the numbers and that young woman's face are, they are only part of the story. Another part, much more encouraging, has to do with people like Sukati herself. For over a decade, she has been part of an alliance of nurse researchers, health workers and people living with AIDS (PLWAs) that is waging a determined, multifront battle to push back the pandemic's momentum in southern Africa.

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We feel like Andrew has become a member of our nursing profession; he has listened to us, written about us, and put together stories that tell our tales with as much heart as any of us with RN after our names could do. Better than just listening, he absorbs - he makes connections - he follows leads and trails and comes to conclusions about our work that help the non-nursing public understand us far better.

- Zina Mirsky,
Associate Dean, Administration,
UCSF School of Nursing