Asymptomatic =/= Immune

I didn’t realize until last night that this was a point of confusion.  If my spouse didn’t get it, despite my many rants about asymptomatic spread for the last couple of months, then undoubtedly there are others who don’t get it either.

To be asymptomatic means that you’re infected but not showing symptoms.  This might actually mean you’re pre-symptomatic (you’ll eventually have symptoms) or that for whatever reason, you’ll never develop symptoms.  However, you are still infected, and you can spread the virus (or other infectious agent, but these days, we’re mostly talking about the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19) to anyone who is not immune.  If you are an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier, you are infected.  You are not immune.  You will most likely eventually develop immunity.  To be asymptomatic is good for you, but bad for everyone around you, because you could be (and probably are) unknowingly spreading the virus.

If you are asymptomatic, you will (assuming 100% accuracy for all tests, which is a huge oversimplification)

– test positive for the antigen (virus)

– test negative for the antibody (proteins created by the body to fight the virus)

– be able to spread the virus to others

To be immune means you have the antibodies to the virus (or other infectious agent).  At some point, you either were infected with the virus and successfully cleared it from your system or you received a vaccine (which, on May 28, 2020, we don’t yet have anything other than a bunch of prototypes being tested).  If you are exposed to the virus again, your body has its defenses prepared to essentially kill on sight (again, oversimplification).  You are very unlikely to carry the virus to someone else.  To be immune is good for you and everyone around you.

If you are immune, you will (again, assuming 100% accuracy for all tests)

– test negative for the antigen (virus)

– test positive for the antibody (proteins created by the body to fight the virus)

– not spread the virus to others

The entire point to masking and social distancing is the same point as safer sex measures: you have to assume that you (and everyone else) are infected and capable of spreading the virus unless you have concrete proof that you cannot.  Concrete proof means a positive antibody test, because you could have tested negative for the antigen (virus) yesterday and been infected immediately after.

Also, on a related note, we don’t yet know for sure how long immunity lasts.  Hopes are for a minimum of 12 months, but we literally can’t know for sure until people who have tested immune (positive antibody test) lose that immunity (without a confounder like HIV attacking that immunity) or don’t.

Trying to find citable sources for all this that aren’t written in overly scientific language and/or behind a paywall is a fun challenge.  There’s this article, which isn’t exactly a peer-reviewed source but does explain things rather simply.  I suppose Johns Hopkins is a better source, but it doesn’t make the distinction in quite the way I think is needed.  Hopefully they’ll help explain this further, though.

Leadership Team Report

GLMA Nursing

You might be wondering what is happening with the GLMA Nursing Section these days, or you might not have given this a thought!  After all, it is easy to relegate the GLMA Nursing Section to a once-a-year event that many have come to eagerly anticipate, and that provides a rich experience of inspiration and rejuvenation.  But the GLMA Nursing Section was formed to be much more than something that only happens once a year … it was formed to provide all LGBTQ nurses and our allies a “home” – a year-round “space” to be free of the persistent stigma that many of live with day in and day out, a means of connection with colleagues and friends and re-energize our commitment to the work we do, a network from which to generate ideas and actions to improve LGBTQ health.

So this year’s leadership team is committed to a year-round focus on…

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Nursing Summit 2015 – a Great Success!

This is a great reminder to pull out my notes and get them a bit more organized, now that I’m somewhat out from under the avalanche of paper-grading. Plus a great picture of our leadership team!

It really was a great summit. I learned lots, reconnected with nurses I met last year, and met wonderful new nurses as well. Both the summit and the conference overall sent me home with a to-do list that I’d best get cracking on.

GLMA Nursing

Our 2015 Nursing Summit was a great success – many thanks to the leadership of Caitlin Stover, who worked tirelessly throughout the months ahead to make sure this happened! Her planning team included Michele McKelvey, Kelli Dunham, Madelyne Greene, Pamela Lin, Eileen Glover, Rob Carroll, Jose Pares-Avila, Sarah Sanders, Mary Foley, Emily Kane-Lee, Pamela Levesque, Amy Wilson-Stronks and Alison McManus.  The 2014-15 leadership team lent support along the way, as well as members of the GLMA staff who orchestrated the GLMA Conference.  Portland, Oregon was a beautiful, interesting and very welcoming city – everywhere we went we heard comments of delight that we were together, sharing interesting ideas, supporting one another, and learning on many levels.

We will be posting many more details of the outcomes of the Summit during the next several weeks, but for now I want to be sure everyone knows our new leadership team for 2015-2016.  Below is a photograph of the newly elected team that was taken by…

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Gun violence: A nursing concern?

It stands to reason that if suicide contagion exists, i.e. the possibility for violence against self to spread similarly to infection, then obviously the possibility of violence contagion in general exists. There was actually a good article in the Washington Post about this today from an epidemiologist’s perspective. This blog post has more to say about how nurses can help to get lawmakers over the idea that we should not study and handle violence like any other health problem.


Once again we find ourselves reeling from a mass shooting, this time in a small community college in Oregon. One of the most disturbing reports of the Umpqua Community College incident was that the dead victims’ cell phones were ringing when police and rescue workers arrived on the scene, as their families and friends tried to make contact with them. The heartbreak for this community is palpable; for nursing educators, the concern of wondering if this could happen in our classrooms, in our schools, is unsettling. Some of us might recall the 2002 Arizona nursing faculty mass shooting, where 3 nursing professors were gunned down and killed by a student who had failed a pediatric class.

What has changed since those 2002 shootings? If you scroll through your facebook feed today, it is likely you will find many postings about the statistics of mass shootings, thoughts about how nothing has…

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