LaRon E. Nelson, Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P., assistant professor at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and the Dean’s Endowed Fellow in Health Disparities, has been selected for induction as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (AAN). Nelson is among a class of 173 nurse leaders who will be honored at the academy’s annual policy conference Oct. 5-7, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
A leader in global research on HIV and AIDS, Nelson’s groundbreaking, internationally funded work has advanced network-based approaches to reducing disparities in HIV and sexually transmitted infections among socially marginalized groups in Ghana, Canada, and the United States.
“This is an amazing accomplishment for LaRon. To be recognized as an AAN fellow at this point in his career speaks volumes about the significance and power of his work,” said Kathy Rideout, Ed.D., P.P.C.N.P.-B.C., F.N.A.P., dean of the UR School of Nursing.
“I’m extremely honored to join this distinguished network of nursing leaders and scholars,” said Nelson. “These nurses have brought innovative solutions to nursing and other fields, ultimately improving health care on a global scale.”
A public health nurse who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Rochester, Nelson’s own research into HIV and AIDS prevention and care has reached new heights since returning to the School of Nursing as a faculty member in 2014. In 2016 alone, he was invited to present his research findings and lead panel discussions at a White House symposium on HIV stigma, received the Excellence in HIV Prevention Award from the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, and was named the inaugural Ontario HIV Treatment Network Research Chair in HIV Program Science for African, Caribbean, and Black Communities.
Nelson has investigated using innovative intervention approaches and emerging technologies to help keep individuals engaged in their care and to facilitate communication with their health care providers. He has also studied how using mobile app tools can help mitigate the impact of stigma on patient engagement and retention. Those strategies are especially important in places like Ghana, where HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) is 15 times higher than the general population, but the stigma associated with same-sex behaviors and identities that don’t conform to traditional masculine gender norms can cause men to withdraw from care.
“We have to create avenues for people to be engaged in health care without having to be exposed to situations hostile to who they are,” he said. “There are very serious implications to these men being disengaged, which can negatively affect their quality of life.”
The AAN comprises more than 2,500 nurse leaders in education, management, practice, policy, and research representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 29 countries. Candidates for selection must provide evidence of significant contributions to nursing or health care, sponsorship of two current fellows, and be approved by a panel of elected and appointed fellows based on the impact of their career on health and wellbeing or health policy.