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Hiv+ Patient Care Giver
May 24, 2003

I've been a nursing assistant for 10 years and I love my job. It's very rewarding to help ease the anxiety of an ill person and to help people regain their independence. Three years ago, I noticed I had lost some weight but it wasn't alarming since my wieght always fluctuated since I was a teenager and its not uncommon for health care workers to lose a little weight due to the stress of their job. I decided to take an hiv test to be on the "safe side" and to my surprise the results were positive. Needless to say I was completely shocked. With the help of some therapy, things are back to normal and I'm glad to say for the time being I'm still very healthy. My question is do you think its a good idea for me to change jobs or should I continue on as a nursing assistant. There is still a lot of stigma attached to hiv and I would understand why a patient wouldn't want someone who is hiv positive helping to give him/her a bath. What do you think? Any input from you would help me tremendously.Thank you very much.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Your HIV status is no reason to change the work you love. You are not performing invasive procedures, and obviously you are providing personal services with a caring touch. We need more of you, HIV+ or not! You must take care to make sure that your own blood, should you bleed for any reason, does not come in contact with a mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth) or the bloodstream (open cut) of one of your patients, but apart from that, you have no reason to do anything differently. Your worth is just as high as it ever was, before HIV. Anyone who doesn't want an HIV+ person bathing him or her needs some fast education.

I hope you are aware that your information is confidential and you are not obligated to tell your patients about your HIV. If I were you, I would not. It's kinder to spare them any anxiety that their lack of education--or their fondness for you--might create.

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