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How Much Do HIV/Aids Nurses Make?

NurseJournal Staff
Updated January 13, 2023
Review the earning potential of HIV/AIDS nurses, highest-paying states, and ways to increase pay through education, certification, experience, and clinical setting.
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HIV/AIDS nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in helping patients with HIV and/or AIDS. Their ability to establish relationships with patients while remaining empathetic to their needs makes them crucial for patients navigating lives with HIV/AIDS.

This guide provides information on the salary RNs can expect when choosing to specialize in working with HIV/AIDS patients, along with ways to increase their pay throughout their careers.

Average Salary for HIV/AIDS Nurses

The average salary for an HIV/AIDS nurse depends upon multiple factors, including education, experience, and clinical setting. Although the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) does not provide data on HIV/AIDS nurses specifically, they do report that all RNs earn a median salary of $77,600, which translates to $37.30 per hour.

RNs who choose to specialize in working with HIV/AIDS patients can increase their salaries by earning advanced degrees, pursuing certification, or choosing specific clinical/geographic settings.

Median Annual Salary
Source:BLS, June 2022

Median Hourly Wage
Source:BLS, June 2022

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The Highest-Paying States for HIV/AIDS Nurses

While the BLS does not specifically track the salary of HIV/AIDS nurses by state, average RN wages can offer insight into earnings for the specialty. The highest-paying states for RN are located in the western part of the country. Despite the higher salaries in these locations, many of these states have a high cost of living, which tends to balance earnings with other states.

The states with the highest annual pay for all RNs are:

Highest-Paying States
StateAverage Salary


4 Ways to Increase Pay As a HIV/AIDS Nurse

HIV/AIDS nurses can take several steps to increase their pay. Pursuing additional education or relocating to a new setting or region can help those nurses looking to earn higher wages.

  1. 1

    Consider Pursuing Certifications

    A licensed RN with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and at least two years of experience in clinical practice, education, management, or research related to HIV/AIDS can pursue the HIV/AIDS certified registered nurse (ACRNs) credential through the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board.

    An RN with a master of science in nursing (MSN), three years of clinical experience, and 2,000 hours working within the field of HIV/AIDS can pursue certification as an advanced ACRN. Certification showcases RNs’ dedication to the specialty, along with their knowledge and familiarity with the field. Employers often provide higher salaries for nurses who have made this commitment.

  2. 2

    Increase Your Education Level

    The minimum degree required to become an HIV/AIDS nurse is an associate degree in nursing (ADN). However, returning to school to earn a BSN or an MSN can help increase an RN’s average salary. According to June 2022 Payscale data, RNs with ADNs earn an average salary of $73,000, $89,000 with BSNs, and $98,000 with MSNs.

  3. 3

    Gain Experience in Administrative Roles

    Gaining experience in administrative tasks can help expand HIV/AIDS nurses’ professional roles, which ultimately helps in increasing their pay. To gain this experience, RNs can volunteer to assist administrators in their current settings or search for opportunities at local free clinics.

  4. 4

    Change Practice Setting

    Changing their practice setting can help increase an HIV/AIDS RN’s salary. According to the BLS, RNs who work for the government earn $85,970 per year, while those who work in state, local, or private hospitals earn $78,070 — both of which are higher than the national average.

    HIV/AIDS nurses can also change geographical location to influence their pay. West coast states such as California ($124,000) and Hawaii ($106,530), along with northeast states such as Massachusetts ($96,630) and New York ($93,320), feature some of the highest average salaries for RNs.

Frequently Asked Questions About HIV/AIDS Nurse Salaries

question-mark-circleWhat do HIV nurses do?

HIV/AIDS nurses monitor patients with HIV/AIDS and keep track of their health. They perform physical examinations, collect blood samples, administer medications, assist physicians during procedures, and educate patients and their families on living with HIV/AIDS.

question-mark-circleAre HIV/AIDS nurses in demand?

The BLS projects that employment for RNs will grow by 9% from 2020-2030, which is slightly higher than the 8% increase for all other occupations. However, according to the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 70% of people living with HIV or AIDS will be over the age of 50 by 2030. Therefore, the demand may increase due to the aging population’s medical needs.

question-mark-circleDo HIV nurses need certification?

No. HIV/AIDS nurses do not need to be certified. Instead, they need to meet the minimum degree requirement and become licensed RNs. However, professionals looking for administrative or leadership roles have more success if they become certified.

question-mark-circleWhat skills do HIV/AIDS nurses need?

HIV/AIDS nurses need to be able to communicate effectively with their patients, as one of their most important roles deals with education and support. Most nurses develop long-term medical relationships with patients. Therefore, they need to be empathetic caregivers who advocate for their patients’ physical and emotional needs.

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