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Living into the Lessons of 5B with HIV/AIDS Nurse Guy Vandenberg

In San Francisco General Hospital’s Ward 5B and 5A, nurses like Guy Vandenberg, RN, treated HIV/AIDS patients with compassion and found innovative ways to improve care. The film 5B shares the stories of those who worked in the ward in the 1980s, but Guy shares why the film is so relevant for today.

In the 1980s, when most of the world regarded HIV and AIDS patients with fear and prejudice, it was nurses who defied convention and embraced patients with compassionate care. Their brave and then-controversial actions revolutionized patient care beyond the AIDS epidemic, and 5B, a compelling new documentary commissioned by Johnson & Johnson, tells the story of the patients, nurses and healthcare staff who worked in San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH)’s Ward 5B, the first unit dedicated to HIV/AIDS care in America.

Featured in the documentary is Guy Vandenberg, RN, one of the resilient nurses who worked in a local San Francisco hospice and later the expansion of Ward 5B, Ward 5A, to treat and care for the AIDS patients in the trenches of the epidemic. The Johnson & Johnson Notes on Nursing team recently sat down with Guy to learn more about his experience as a nurse in Ward 5A, what he believes are the biggest takeaways from the documentary and how we can better embrace today’s “untouchables” in healthcare.

Want to learn more about 5B, and meet other revolutionary nurses who worked there? Watch the movie's trailer or catch it on demand.

The film 5B was proudly commissioned by Johnson & Johnson as part of our longstanding commitment to the support of nurses at the frontlines of patient care. Through the development of advanced therapies and together with our partners, Johnson & Johnson is also deeply committed to the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS. Be on the lookout for special moments featuring 5B and its amazing nurses later this month on September 28 at Global Citizen 2019 in New York City.

(Pictured above is Guy working as a nurse in 1994 at SFGH's Ward 5A, Guy on a Pride float for Coming Home Hospice in 1992, and Guy and his husband, Steve, at a protest in 1995. Steve is a HIV/AIDS survivor who was also a patient in Ward 5B.)

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