Greater Washington DC Chapter
(Last Updated 2007)
The Greater Washington Association of Nurses in AIDS Care was chartered in June 8, 1991. In November 1990, a group of nurses working at the National Institutes of Health met to find out more about ANAC and what might be required to start a chapter. Application to become a local chapter of ANAC was voted on in January and officers were elected. At the time of its charter, it was the second largest chapter in the country (Minutes of June 19, 1991 The first educational meeting was held that March, with a speaker on occupational hazards in HIV care. A few of the founding members were Dirk Darnell, Mary Allen, Sherry Byrne, Bernice Williams, Maureen George, Christian Yoder, Thom Thiele, Ella Curry, Francis Sundt, Wende Levy, Judi Thomas and Sheila Davis, who was the chapter president for the first three years.
In its early years, nurses from a wide variety of agencies signed up and attended meetings. Before HAART, nurses needed to hear from each other how to help patients get through each day. The stated purpose for starting a local chapter was “to provide an educational forum for nurses working in all areas of HIV and AIDS care as well s to provide a forum for networking and sharing ideas. Other goals were to provide information to nursing students and all nurses working in area hospitals, to help alleviate fear of and discrimination towards people with HIV and AIDS, and to increase knowledge related to care of the HIV positive person (GWANAC Newsletter, April 1991).
Minutes of meetings in the early years reflect the great amount of energy and enthusiasm brought to organizing the chapter, having monthly meetings (each with an educational presentation), producing a newsletter with significant content, and keeping abreast of constantly changing modes of treatment and care. Over the years, membership has fluctuated from highs in the 60s to lows in the 20s during some years. 1996 was a low membership year, described as a “crossroad,” when members were surveyed for suggestions on how to make the organization more attractive.
By 2001, the president and president-elect met with several steadfast members to discuss whether or not to dissolve the chapter because of the decline in membership and the low turnout at meetings. They decided to stay in business and went on to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the chapter, recruit new members to fill board vacancies and carry on the mission of education and support. In the four years since, our membership rebounded to 55 two years ago, but is now in a down cycle. We continue to offer educational dinner meetings, with a goal of four per year. With the change in pharmaceutical company financial support for these dinners, chapter finances remain a challenge.
Over our 14 years, many issues remain the same. Recruiting members from the many healthcare facilities in our metropolitan area has been a recurring if not continuing problem. Of the hundred of nurses in HIV care, we wonder why our membership and meeting attendance stays around 25 people. Fundraising is always an issue. Topics for speakers remain the same, even though content changes from year to year. At the beginning, meetings were held monthly. Now we meet four times a year. Newsletter once came out every other month. Now we are down to two a year.
Looking to the future: Our chapter is trying to increase membership; recruit members to participate in a community service/outreach project and launch a major all-day symposium on HIV policy and practice.
1991: Sheila Davis
1992: Sheila Davis
1993: Sheila Davis
1994: Sheila Davis
1995: Wende Levy
1996: Debbie LaFontaine
1997: Keith Dawson
1998: Frances Sundt
1999: Juna Mackey-Padilla
2000: Virginia Thackery
2001: Diana Jordan
2002: Michael Relf
2003: Chad Koratich
2004: Bill Sachau
2005: Gerry Rebach
2006: Joachim Voss
Educational offerings over the years (partial list)
- 1991: Legal Issues, Home Care issues, Safer Sex, Ethical Issues for Nurses
- 1992: HIV and TB, HIV and GI issues, Women and HIV, Nutrition, Pediatric Care
- 1993: Sexuality and HIV, Partner notification in the three political jurisdictions in our area. A conference was going to be planned, but was cancelled for a variety of reasons.
- 1994: AIDS and Prisons, HIV and Substance Abuse, meeting with director of local DC Office of HIV/AIDS, Complementary Therapies, Significant Others Affected by HIV Infection. Political involvement of the chapter was discussed at a meeting.
- 1995: Dilemmas in Practice, HIV and Women, Spiritual Dimensions in AIDS Care, OI Treatment. Membership was low, member survey drafted.
- 1996: Protease Inhibitors, Pediatric AIDS Care, Cycle of Addiction and Mental Illness in the HIV client, Nutrition, AIDS in DC, Pain and HIV, CMV and HIV. Goals for the year were to increase membership, provide quality programs and increase networking.
- 1997: Role of the Nurse in Political Advocacy for People with AIDS
- 1998: Lipodystrophy, HIV and Multiple Losses
- 1999: Adherence, PEP
- 2000: End of Life Issues, Clinical Trials
In the last four years we have had programs on various antiretroviral medications, Cultural Sensitivity in HIV care, International Aspects of the Epidemic, HIV/HCV Coinfection, Vaccine Research Update, Fuzeon (T20), annual CROI updates, Personal Experiences of People Living with HIV (panel).
A number of our members have presented at various conferences: Kevin Mallinson, Michael Relf, Robert Dodge (since moved out of the area), France Sundt, Barbara Aranda-Naranjo to name but a few. More information about these can be added to this history at a later time.